Total Allowable Catch set for Queen Conch and Sea Cucumber
Sunday, March 6th, 2016
In an effort to preserve the marine species Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) and Sea Cucumber (Holothuroidea), the Belize Fisheries Department has implemented Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for both fishing season. The Fisheries Regulations under Statutory Instrument number 54 of 2012 (Regulation 24A.1) has been amended by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development in order to implement a set export quota for each species. This regulation has been put into play to safeguard diminishing populations of the species, and while it will not directly affect local fishers here in San Pedro, it will affect those who normally catch for exportation.
In accordance to the law, TAC has been set at an 800,000 pound limit for conch per season. The sea cucumber TAC has been set to 300,000 pounds per season. “Once the catch quota for any of the aforementioned fisheries is realized, even if is before the closing of their respective season, then the fishing season will be officially declared closed,” said the Fisheries Department.
The Queen Conch fishing season normally runs from October 1st to June 30th, while the Sea Cucumber fishing season runs from May 1st to June 30th. Once the season is closed, no person or establishment shall be allowed to have in their possession any conch or sea cucumber meat.
In addition to the amendments to the TAC, the Fisheries Department is also implementing a new policy to strengthen the process for the issuing of export licenses. The new policy requires eligible organizations and individuals wishing to obtain a 2016 Sea cucumber export license to fill out and submit an application form along with a project proposal with details of the operation to the Fisheries Administrator. This is in an effort to further improve the conservation, management and sustainable use of the Sea cucumber. “An organization or individual is deemed eligible to submit an application for a 2016 Sea cucumber export license if he has a processing facility that is currently certified by the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA). Applicants will be required to provide evidence of a valid BAHA certificate,” said the Fisheries Department.
Persons found in violation of any of the above regulations, will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. For any further information, contact the Belize Fisheries Department at 224-4552 or 223-2187.
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