All gill nets must be registered
The Belize Fisheries Department has announced that all persons engaging in gill net fishing must now register their gill nets for use.
We spoke to an official from the Fisheries Department who explained that the reason for the new measures is to ensure the sustainable management of commercially important fishery resources.
We were told that the gill net registration is just one important management measure. The management regulations for gill net fishing have been in place since 2011, but now the Department is enforcing the registration of gill nets.
The Department will issue certificates which will show ownership of the materials. Aluminum tags with serial numbers will also be issued upon registration of the gill nets.
The new regulation states that a fine of $500 or six months imprisonment or both will be imposed for fishing without a registered net. The department will not be able to definitively identify the owner of gear in instances where they find individuals fishing without a registered net; therefore, anyone caught with the unregistered net will be fined and the net will be confiscated.
The Department has its own enforcement unit which will be monitoring the impact of the regulation. In addition to that there will be officers stationed at several marine reserves in Belize to monitor the use of gill nets.
The regulation for gill net usage states that a gill net, if joined, must not exceed 300 meters in internal waters or 200 meters in freshwater bodies. Gill nets must not be used along the shorelines of Monkey River or Placencia. They must not be set within a radius of one mile of a bridge or one-half mile of the outfall of a tributary. Gill nets must not be used in the New River Lagoon or its tributaries.
Those who apply to register their gill nets must provide a valid fishing vessel license and a fisherman license, along with any other documentation required by the Fisheries Administrator.
The certificate of registration will be valid for one year, after which persons will be required to renew it. The registration process is to begin today, Wednesday, and will continue until June 30, 2013. Any persons caught gill net fishing without registered materials after June 30 will be committing an offense.