Monday, 11 November, 2013

Held on November 9, 2013 in Independence Village, Stann Creek District at the SENTER

The BFF held one of its first of three regional meetings November 9, 2013 in Independence Village, Stann Creek District at the SENTER. Despite the pouring rain our members from Punta Gorda, Punta Negra, Monkey River, Independence, Riversdale, Hopkins, and Stann Creek all showed up for this very important gathering.  In attendance also were the Fisheries Department and its enforcement officers. Well over one hundred fisher folks participated.

Objective of the Meeting: To strengthen the membership and facilitate the information exchange, capacity building and networking among BFF Fisherman Association, Cooperative, Individuals and partners.

Concerns that came out of the Meeting:

  1. A member from Punta Negra raises the point that the harvesting of turtle for traditional (ritual) used should be across the board.
  2. The Cooperative need to have a pension plan for fishers after retirement.
  3. There need to be more consultation on the Fisheries Legislation.
  4. Fishers committees are making recommendation on manage access and their recommendations are not being taking into consideration by Fisheries Department.
  5. The need for fishers and fishing communities to be more unified and more forum  of this kind is needed.

How will the BFF address these?

  1. The BFF will seek clarification on the Policy and Procedure that govern the harvesting of turtle for traditional (ritual) usage and will address the member concern with the relevant authority. That information will then be disseminated to all community representatives to share with their members.
  2. The BFF will request copies of the bylaws that address our members concern with the BFCA (Belize Fisherman Cooperative Association) reference benefits.  Northern, National and Placencia Cooperative are all members of BFCA.  The BFF is aware that National had a share and pension plan that is no longer active. There are no sick benefits.  The only benefit from National is a scholarship given each year to the child of a fisher folk.   To address this major concern the BFF will first dialog with the BFCA to get clarification. That information will then be disseminated to all community representatives to share with their members who deliver their products to these cooperatives.  Depending on the outcome of that information and what the cooperative have in place for our members the BFF will act accordingly. In addition the BFF will be looking in to other pension scheme that will benefit our members eg. Voluntary contribution to Social Security among others.
  3. BFF will continue to disseminate revise draft of the  propose Fisheries Legislation to all Association Members and Community Representatives  and will continue to dialog with the Department to ensure the fishers are including in the consultation since the chairman or his representative sit on this committee.  Consultation schedule will also be requested.
  4. The BFF will dialog with the Manage Access of the Fisheries Department to look in the mechanism as to how this will work and ensure the members are participating and benefiting. That information will then be disseminated to all community representatives.
  5. The BFF will continue to work with the fishers to ensure coordination and communication between all fishing communities and will continue to organize meetings and forums of this nature at least once or twice a year regionally.

The BFF would like to thank its members for a very productive regional meeting. This was a meeting held by the fishers for the fishers. Our objective was met because Fishers from different communities and association where able to exchange information, emails, phone numbers to build capacity and a strong net worth among themselves.  They were encouraged to increase their membership which in turn will strengthen the membership of the BFF.  We would also like to thank the Fisheries Department particularly Mr. Hampton Gamboa and his team for an excellent presentation and who found the time to answer all our members’ questions and concern during the entire meeting to the best of his ability.  Thanks also to Love Fm and Plus TV for media coverage.  Once again the BFF and the Fisheries Department working hand in hand towards an ecological approached to fisheries management, and the BFF being the united voice for all fishers and fishing communities who subscribe to the purpose of the Federation.

Written by EMC BFF