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Until the later half of the 20th century, the Bluefields Bay was able to support its fishers. Bluefields Bay was a fisher’s heaven, being in excellent environmental condition. The coral reefs, grass beds and mangroves were intact and served to make the bay a productive nursery ground. Since the 1960s, there has been the destruction of mangroves and fish habitats, and the introduction of seine-net and small mesh wire and bamboo pots, killing small fish. A fishing group was established in Belmont in the 1970s when fishing became a large industry. However, this group failed due to mismanagement. The Bluefields Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society was established in 2004 after the passage of Hurricane Ivan. Upon suggestion of Mr. Wolde Kristos suggested who believe the fishermen should come together and put mechanisms in place to mitigate some of the issues they were facing in the fishing industry.
To educate its members in sustainable fishing practices and provide alternatives that will enhance the quality of life and preserve Bluefield’s Bay natural environment.
- Encourage natural leaders from within the ranks of the fishermen to devise and promote ‘alternative approach’ programmes
- Sign up 96% of the fishermen who say that they wish to join the Friendly Society and participate in education and conservation workshops
- Build marketing strength of the fishermen through growth of this cooperative movement and encourage better prices for their catches
- Encourage licensing of all fishermen and craft (only about 41% are currently licensed) and facilitate the dissemination of information, distribution of equipment and supplies from grants, the institution of safety measure, insurance coverage and an ongoing collection of accurate data.
- Secure fishing beaches with leaseholds
- Educate fishermen to promote environmentally friendly fishing methods that help with conservation and regeneration of fish stocks
- Support NEPA and police authorities in apprehending persons engaged in illegal fishing methods that harm conservation and regeneration of fish stocks
- Locate small loans to purchase better boats and equipment and to take the pressure off the inshore area of Bluefields Bay, which is important breeding ground for fish and a growing area for fry.
- Phase out small gauge mesh and replace it with larger mesh through financial aid and self help
- Train fishermen to be better qualified for alternative employment in the growing tourism industry, especially tourism activities on the water
- Design and build a multipurpose building for the Society in Belmont that will provide storage facilities and space for meetings.
- The BBFFS is responsible for managing the Bluefields Bay Special Fisheries Conservation Area, educating the neighboring communities about the importance of the Sanctuary, partnering with funders and university groups to conduct research in and around the SFCAd raising to ensure the preservation of the Bluefields Bay Special Conservation Fisheries Area into the future.
- Sea Turtle Monitoring since 2011