A glimpse of sustainable fishing in Belize | Oceana
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Sustainable fishing gear (like this traditional net) can help protect Belize's marine habitats, part of the second-largest barrier reef system in the world, from damage and overfishing.

Photo Credit: OCEANA / Alex Ellis

Some things come naturally. Others, you have to learn. Here, a Garifuna man teaches the next generation to throw a traditional crab net at the Dangriga Town Pier, Belize.

Called a “raati” net after the Belizean Creole word for a large crab, this traditional net is still common in the south of the country, where it’s considered an environmentally friendly fishing gear. Cast off bridges and in shallow water, raati nets are used to snag abundant blue crabs, mostly for subsistence.

The nets are used in areas where they won’t tangle on corals or other delicate sea life. They don’t even hurt crabs, so fishers can throw them back if they’re too small.

“Sustainable fishing traditions, like this one, guarantee there will be wild resources in the future,” said Janelle Chanona of Oceana in Belize.

Oceana works to promote responsible fishing gears, like raati nets, hand lines and trident spears in Belize. Clean gears offer alternatives to dirty fishing methods like bottom trawling, which rips up the seafloor habitat, and gillnets, which entangle protected fishes and marine mammals as well as targeted species. Oceana was instrumental in Belize’s 2010 ban on all forms of trawling, but indiscriminate gillnet fishing is still a problem.

“Phasing out gillnets in Belize’s waters will ensure that fishers of today and tomorrow will be able to depend on the sea for their livelihoods, recreation and enjoyment,” Chanona said. “People have fished sustainably for years, and if we continue to fish sustainably, future generations of Belizeans will also be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of its marine resources.”