Capture Fisheries Unit Mandate
The Capture Fisheries Unit is a technical branch of the Fisheries Department. Its primary objective is to collect and analyse fisheries data and provide sound technical advice to the Fisheries Administrator on matters concerning the sustainable use, conservation and management of aquatic resources in Belize.
In order to accomplish the Department’s mandate of managing the fishing industry in a sustainable manner, the CFU is tasked with the responsibility of fisheries research, monitoring and data collection that informs management decisions for sustainable use and conservation of wild caught fisheries resources – both marine and freshwater. The Unit conducts sound scientific assessments via well designed research and systematic data collection and monitoring programs, which is subsequently utilized in the development of appropriate management measures for the different commercial species. The CFU also seeks to assess and provide guidance for new and emerging fisheries that could provide an economic alternative to the lobster and conch fishery. Moreover, CFU has under its mandate the proper oversight of the implementation of innovative management tools such as the Managed Access program, which is a rights-based approach to fisheries management that seeks to ensure fisheries sustainability by proactively incorporating fishers to participate in management decisions and to submit fisheries catch landings data.
The Capture Fisheries Unit (CFU) is the main technical arm of the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) charged with various responsibilities including:
- Production of scientific data on the principal capture fishery species through field research (distribution, population structure and abundance) and monitoring programs (CPUE, biological data).
- Provide technical advice to Fisheries Administration for the development and implementation of informed management strategies.
- Propose suitable legislation for fishery control measures (size limits, quotas, closed seasons, restrictions, and others.)
- Public education/awareness programs on status of fishery resources.
- Liaise with fishermen on a day-to-day basis.
- Attend/participate in various fora (local and international)
- Coordinate and cooperate with various regional and international organizations (CRFM, OSPESCA, FAO, CITES, WECAFC, IMMARBE, etc.)
Capture Fisheries Unit (CFU) – Priority Programs
Fisheries Research and Education
- Assessment of the status of the commercially important fishery commodities for decision making purpose to ensure sustainable management of the fishery resources including Spiny lobster, Queen conch, various species of finfish and sharks.
- Education of the fishing community and general public on status of fishery stock, fisheries regulations and rationale is important to keep fishers abreast of stock conditions and to maintain and strengthen working relationship with fishers.
The Fisheries Research sub-branch is responsible for the assessment of all fisheries. It is tasked to design and execute needed research and to provide the best possible recommendations for decision making.
Fisheries Development and Innovative Management Tools
- Development of new and alternative fisheries to create employment and economic opportunities is a priority of the Fisheries Department. This helps to reduce fishing pressure on traditional lobster and conch stocks, which have shown in recent years to have high levels of fishing effort.
- Introduction of innovative management tools such as Managed Access is also a priority of the Fisheries Department. The objective of the Program is sustainable fisheries that will secure livelihoods of fishers.
Fisheries Development is the section that is responsible in the development and diversification of the fishing industry into viable fisheries such as the stone crab fishery, deep slope fishery and sea cucumber fishery.
Statistics and Data Management
- Statistical data collection is an ongoing activity to keep records of trends in annual production volumes and export earnings of species harvested.
- Fisheries data management, analysis and preparation of technical reports provide information used by decision makers to make informed decision geared towards sustainable use of the fishery resources.