Ocean Action Hub

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Managed Access: A Rights-Based Approach to Managing Small Scale Fisheries in Belize

16 May 2017 - Belize’s commercial and subsistence fisheries are important to the livelihoods of approximately 2,800 fishermen, their families and coastal fishing communities.

16 May 2017 - Belize’s commercial and subsistence fisheries are important to the livelihoods of approximately 2,800 fishermen, their families and coastal fishing communities. Belize’s Fisheries were considered an open access fishery up until 2011. The threat of resource depletion was clearly indicated by fishermen whose catch was constantly declining.

July 2011 marked a turning point in the history of fisheries management in Belize, as the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) in partnership with Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) pioneered at two of its marine reserves the implementation of a rights-based approach to fisheries management called Managed Access.

The program was designed to empower traditional fishers by ensuring greater participation in the decision-making process which impacts their livelihood, and by improving the benefits to be derived from the fish stocks in terms of increased fish landings, reduction in fishing effort, larger size classes and increased prices and revenues. In addition, in the long term, there will be benefits accrued to the ecosystem which will contribute to the maintenance of the overall health and sustainability of the Belize Barrier Reef complex.

Key to the success of this program are several components which include, but are not limited to: improvements in the licensing/registry system and process; a good monitoring and fishery dependent catch data collection program; a dedicated presence of enforcement personnel and use of new enforcement technologies; and most importantly, the greater active involvement of fishers themselves in the program via fishing area based committees. All of which, coupled with an extensive social marketing campaign and consultation process has yielded significant success and benefits for the resource as well as the stakeholders.

Initially, Managed Access, sought to complement Belize’s successful marine reserve network with a system of limited access that would allow access to fishing within the general use zone of the marine reserve only to its bonafide fishermen. Managed Access eventually metamorphosed, and five years after the implementation at the pilot sites, the positive results and consultation process triggered the expansion of the program beyond just the initial proposal to roll out to the marine reserve network.

Thus, in June of 2016, Managed Access was rolled out to the entire territorial waters of Belize and it now secures tenure for fishermen to fish in two of eight designated fishing areas called TURFs (Territorial User Rights for Fishing), with the additional option of Area 9 that is designated for deep sea fishing. In the process of the national expansion of Managed Access, The Belize Fisheries Department Managed Access Task Force evolved into the Managed Access Working Group (MAWG), which now incorporates a broader array of stakeholders.

The establishment of the MAWG was realized in order to have a better participatory intervention of both stakeholders and technical capacities that would better guide the expansion under an ecosystems based approach.

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Belize Holds Inaugural National Consultation Focus Group Meeting To Draft Commitments

16 May 2017 - On 5 May the Belize Fisheries Department, with the support of UNDP, held its Inaugural Meeting of the National Consultation Process with a Focus Group meeting to discuss and develop a set of draft Voluntary Commitments geared towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 Targets.

16 May 2017 - On 5 May the Belize Fisheries Department, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), held its Inaugural Meeting of the National Consultation Process with a Focus Group meeting to discuss and develop a set of draft Voluntary Commitments geared towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 Targets.

The event was held at the CZMA Training Room in Belize City and was led by Ms. Beverly Wade, Belize Fisheries Administrator who was supported by a highly-capable technical team of Fisheries Officers. The meeting was attended by representatives from government organizations (Coastal Zone Management Authority and Sustainable Development Unit) and a wide cross-section of environmental and non-governmental organizations (The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, Belize Audubon Society, OCEANA, Sarteneja Association for Conservation and Development, Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association and Southern Environmental Alliance),

The meeting participants successfully developed a set of draft Voluntary Commitments that will be discussed and shared with coastal fishing communities during the upcoming consultations with fishers for support and endorsement.

Three other consultations are scheduled to be held in northern (Sarteneja Village - May 17), central (Belize City - May 19) and southern Belize (Independence Village - May 25). These community consultations will target individual fishers, fishers' groups such as associations, fishermen cooperatives and Belize Fishers Federation.