Government praised for catch and release law Print E-mail
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Thursday, 05 November 2009 14:26

The government of Belize in its effort to protect Belize’s marine resources has signed two statutory instruments indicating its progressive and innovative approach to Belize’s fish management policy. 

Minister responsible for Fisheries, Rene Montero in October of this year signed into law the two Statutory Instruments which can be termed “Catch and Release” Regulations.  These regulations made by the Minister under the Coastal Zone Management Authority Act and the Fisheries Act respectively are

designed to regulate the sport fishing industry in Belize. 

Of importance to note is that the regulations require those involved in sport fishing to obtain a sport fishing license and in addition there are specific fish species which can be caught and released in the process of fishing.  These include 21 different fish including white and blue marlin, sailfish, Spanish and King Mackerel, Skipjack and Bigeye Tuna, three types of snook, namely Tarpon, Fat and Mexican Snook amongst others. 

The regulations, under the Fisheries Act, makes it unlawful for any person or establishment to have in possession any bonefish (albula vulpes); permit fish (trachinotus falcatus); tarpon (megalops atlanticus). A violation of these regulations upon summary conviction can result in a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term of six months or both. 

Under the Coastal Zone Management Authority the Ministry responsible for fisheries is empowered to issues the license and may also revoke said license where the licensee fails to comply with the terms of the license; contravenes any provision of the regulations; or contravenes any provision under the Fisheries Act or corresponding regulations. 

The regulations make it clear who would be classified as being engaged in sport fishing for the purpose of the act.  That is any persons who is “on a boat or engaged or employed on a boat while in use or equipped for sport fishing in the waters of Belize” or “is engaged or equipped to fish any of the fish species named in the Fisheries Act for the purpose of sport fishing”. Penalties for offences under the Coastal Zone Management Authority Regulation are the same as those under the Fisheries Regulation.
The regulation of the sporting industry greatly assists the fishing and tourism industry which is very dependent on there being an abundance of fish in our Belizean waters for food consumption or as tourist attractions. 

Both regulations are subject to negative resolutions.