05 February, 2010

Saving the Belizean Birthright

Last night, Doug found a gill-net strung across the canal just south of his home. Since it was too dark to do anything then, he decided to wait till this morning.
Gill Net Across the Canal
Through a mix-up with email addresses, both myself and Dave from across the canal were notified by Doug and twyla and asked to assist in the net removal, which was good, as Dave could handle that side of the canal without one of the other of us going across. On my way back from walkies, I stopped at Doug's place. Leaving the doggies in Twyla's care, we proceeded to the net location, where we attempted to pull it up, but it was too firmly anchored on the far side.
Showing the Floats And How It's Anchored
As Dave had by then shown up, he manfully got his feet wet  by wading into the stream to wield his machete and cut the anchor line on his side.
Dave Chopping His Side of the Gill Net Anchor Line
After that, Doug and I gave a 'mighty' heave and hauled the net and its contents up on our side of the canal.
Dead Baby Croc and Dead Catfish
The contents of the net was a dead baby croc and a dead catfish. I borrowed Doug's machete, chopped away the net that they were both tangled in, and tossed them back into the canal.  Later in the morning, Doug was going to take the net down to the police station.

Doug reported late this afternoon that when he took the net to the Corozal Police Station, Superintendent Miguel Guzman stated "It is illegal to place fishing nets across any rivers or canals. This is in the Fisheries Act."

Although gill-netting has traditionally been used throughout the world, it recently has come into disrepute as a way of catching fish. The problem mostly, is that it doesn't discriminate between targets - just as in the case this morning. The catfish may have been the target for the young men who set the net, but the croc also became ensnared and needlessly died.

There is a fairly vocal movement in Belize to outlaw use of gill-netting. A letter posted to Amandala Online November 12, 2009 (, was titled: "Say “no” to gill nets — save the birthright of Belizeans!" and referenced an earlier letter to Amandala (that I couldn't find), regarding activity in Parliament to restrict and possibly, outlaw use of gill-nets in Belize.  The major thrust of the letter was in regard to the possibility that the Minister of Fisheries might table the legislation.

Apparently, from the letter, Guatemalan and Honduran fishermen are the biggest users of gill-nets. Although, as we can see from the photos, they're used by Belizeans as well. There's no valid reason to use gill-nets over other types of nets other than that they are extremely effective and non-discriminatory in what they catch. So, having done our good deed for the future and birthright of all Belizeans, we can relax this afternoon and rightfully enjoy an ice-cold Belikin. I know I will, while standing in the middle of my pool too and surveying the canal. Ahhhhhh....


sandy a said...

glad you spotted it and removed it. There is a problem with this around the lagoon where our property is as well.

Dave Rider said...

I recommend - if you find 'em, take 'em out.