Belize Flats Fishery Association: New Organization’s First Membership Drive
This week, the newly formed Belize Flats Flyfishing Association – a new countrywide organization, will hold its first membership drives. In both San Pedro at the Holiday Hotel and the next day in Placencia. To bring together the fly fishing community – the guides, the camps and lodges, the lovers of the sport, and local businesses to support and protect the habitats and this important industry for the coastal communities of Belize.
WHY a New Association?
Tiny Belize is blessed with all of the environmental diversity to be one of the top saltwater fly fishing destinations for anglers worldwide. It’s on almost every fisherperson’s list.
Belize has the 2nd longest barrier reef in the world, hundreds of tiny cayes, miles of crystal clear water and saltwater flats, dense mangroves, and the most talented, knowledgeable, and friendly guides in the world.
The people of Belize have done amazing work over the years…
In 2008, Belize was the first in the world to protect the bonefish, the permit, and the tarpon (the Saltwater Slam) as catch-and-release only throughout the country. They must be released unharmed.
In 2020, the use of Gill Nets was banned by law.
But “progress” is coming quickly and with that, the destruction of crucial habitats. For example, if you live on Ambergris Caye, you can see our lagoons being dredged and our mangroves being razed without looking far.
So much active advocacy went into this earlier legislation to protect the sea life in Belize but there is still so much at stake. What good is protecting the fish if you don’t protect their habitat?
Enter a new country-wide group, the Belize Flats Fishery Association.
Currently, there is an association for our Tour Guides, one for our Tour Operators, and one for Reef Fishermen. Still, as many of you know, Belize’s saltwater flats are a very different environment.
Sandy flat bottoms, sea grass beds, channels, and vegetation like mangroves are all critical habitats and feeding areas for fly fishing.
As Jorge Rodriguez, San Pedrano, fly fishing guide and board member of the new group told me: It’s very important to have laws protecting people and families but not so much if you are burning down their homes.
It also doesn’t do much good if the laws have little to-no enforcement.
Who is Involved in The Belize Flats Fishery Association?
At the meetings/membership drives this week, the group will introduce themselves, what they hope to offer the community, and what they hope to accomplish. The floor is then open to questions, suggestions, and concerns from the community.
There will ultimately be 7 members on the board: Currently, the members are Chris Leeman from Blue Bonefish Lodge on San Pedro, Jorge Rodriguez, San Pedro Flyfishing Guide, Michael Peralta, Guide at El Pescador, and 2 guides from Placencia, brothers Dennis and Eworth Garbutt.
The meeting is this week! October 19th for San Pedro and then October 20th for Placencia. To bring the flyfishing community of Belize together to speak with one voice.
For any additional information, contact one of the initial board members or email the group above. I hope there is a fantastic turnout. This is SUCH an important industry for our island…and for the country.
It attracts tens of thousands of visitors – most of whom are OBSESSED with fly fishing. Many are repeat visitors to Belize and spread the word far and wide.
I hope this organization is a huge success. I’ll let you know what I find out.