New system, new hope for thousands of fishermen in Belize
A fisherman and father of four, Yonardo Cus was becoming increasingly worried that the catch from the Belize Barrier Reef on which his family depends was running out.
Spiny lobster catches had plunged from 200 to 20 per day during his 20 years in business, and some fish populations by one-third. All the while, Yonardo’s income dropped, and he wasn’t alone.
Some 15,000 Belizean fishermen and their families who depend on the reef for their livelihood saw a wealth of conch, lobster and reef fish decline in recent years due to unrestricted fishing. Would the corals, seagrass, mangroves and cayes once teeming with life eventually run empty, they asked one another.
Enter a not-so-new concept: Territorial Rights Use for Fishing, or TURF – a system that gives a fisherman or group of fishermen a dedicated area in which to practice their trade.