This post goes out to Captains Jeff and Bill, two good friends that got me interested in fishing. They are both conscientious fishers and always make sure that no matter what ends up on the hook, to throw back what should not be taken – be it the wrong kind or too small. Between the two of them, I have shared many fun fishing adventures with numerous great friends. To buy a fishing license online click through to Coastal Zone Management Belize.
Fishing in Belize is a popular sport and there are many annual tournaments. Along with this comes great responsibility. Fishing laws are in place to conserve and improve fish populations. Size limits are meant to protect and allow fish to reach a healthy spawning size before they are caught.
People who do not observe these rules or speak up politely when they see them being broken are contributing to overfishing and killing off the industry. There is no endless supply, if we do not respect what we have, we will have none to respect 🙁
Seafood Guide for Fishing in Belize
(All info came from Seafood Guide to Belize card that I got at Matthieu’s Delicatessen – no longer on the island but still relevant information).
Why You Should Care. Fisheries stocks are declining globally. The ocean is not the unlimited resource we once thought it was. Many scientists are predicting a complete collapse in the next 50 years. While Belize is better off than some countries, catches have declined in recent decades and most of the large (>40cm) fish are gone.
The Belize Fisheries Department is doing their best by implementing seasons and size limits for many commercial species but data collection and enforcement are often difficult obstacles.
We need greater protection of our wild fisheries stocks and better ways to rebuild dwindling stocks not only for continued seafood production for future generations but also to preserve the marine ecosystem which in turn will help protect the planet.
You Are What You Eat. Pollution in our oceans has a real trickle down effect. Mercury has been found in many large fish and shark species and warnings exist especially for pregnant women on just how much fish they should eat. There are currently no regulations on shark fishing in Belize and it is often substituted for fish in local treats like panandes.
Lionfish are an invasive species to the Caribbean that eat up our commercial fish and have no natural predators here; the best eradication methods are to kill them and they are good to eat too. But take care as their fins are poisonous (not the fillet though).
You Can Make a Difference. Supply and Demand. If the consumer knows the proper seasons for seafood in Belize they are better equipped to make decisions at the restaurant or on their fishing trip. By ensuring your local guides and restaurants comply with Belize’s Fishery Laws you are helping to protect commercial seafood species for generations to come. While strides are being made in mariculture options they can never replace natural stocks which still need more protection.
Complete Ban – Coral – All Parrotfish – Blue Tang – Surgeon Fish – Permit – Tarpon – Bone Fish – Marine Turtle (all species) – Whale Shark – All Marine Mammals – Diced Conch – Diced Lobster
Closed Seasons – Conch, July 1st to Sept 30th; Lobster February 15th to June 14th; Nassau Grouper, December 1st to March 31; Wild Shrimp, (trawler sources, farm shrimp is legal all year around) July 14th to March 14th; Hickatee, May 1st to May 31st
Catch & Size Limits – Conch Shell Length – 7 inches, Market Clean – 2.5oz; Lobster Cape Length – 3 inches Tail Weight 2.75 oz; Nassau Grouper must be 20 – 30 inches only and must be landed whole (no fillet)
Special Laws and Permits – All fishermen must have a valid license. You must be a Belizean Citizen or permanent resident in order to obtain a fisheries permit. Sea Cucumber requires a special permit. Fish fillets must have a skin patch left on (2 inches by 1 inch). No fishing while using artificial breathing devices (SCUBA gear or Hookah) In Marine Protected areas several restrictions on fishing gear apply. No nets, no long lines, no traps. Information from Belize law Chapter 2105