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|San Pedro Daily||Saturday,
April 14, 2012
|Front Page||Weather||foto of the day||Regional News||Classified Ads|
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Minister And Co-ops Meet: Close Conch Season Soon?
Today Fisheries Minister Lisel Alamilla met with key stakeholders in the fisheries industry - including the bosses of the principal cooperatives.
It was a consultation session about a very sensitive issue: namely, an early closing of the conch season - as much as two months early. It's no small matter - that two months could mean significant losses in earnings for fisherfolk.
But, the issue is that the Queen or Pink Conch is now listed internationally as an endangered species. At the start of the consultation this morning, the Director of Fisheries, and the Minister made it clear that a delicate balance between conservation and Belize's fourth largest foreign exchange earner has to be struck:
Beverly Wade - Fisheries Admin istrator
"What we have today is based on science, its management advice based on current situation, it is also based on our obligations nationally to ensure that we continue to have a sustainable and viable fishery, and also based on our obligations that we have internationally."
"Conch has become important internationally because it's now been listed as an endangered species. For us to look at the best way forward for the conch industry, which translate to the best solution for the individual fisherman and the best solution for the cooperatives."
Hon. Lisel Alamilla - Minister of Forestry /Fisheries
"What is the balance that we need to strike to ensure that on the one hand we safeguard the viability of the conch stocks while at the same time ensuring that our fishers are afforded their continued livelihood."
During that meeting, it was agreed that the conch quota for 2012 has been met, so the season will close about two months early. We spoke with senior fisheries officer, George Myvett to find out exactly when the season closes, and what spurred that decision.
George Myvett - Senior Fisheries Officer
"Classically it's from June 30th to September 30th, but this year because the quota has been realized it will be closed from the 24th of April until September 30th."
"The Industry leaders along with our Minister of Fisheries and Forestry and Sustainable Development have agreed collectively that there is great wisdom in ensuring that a sustainable management continues to be the strategy which we applied to the Industry and so great sacrifices will need to be made but generally there was a feeling that are in the interest of the fishers in the national interest. We have agreed that the season will need to close coincident with the realization of the quota."
So, the closed season, which usually lasts 3 months will now span a little over 5 months, but Myvett stresses that it is a necessary step that must be taken to preserve Belize's conch population.
The season for sea cucumber closed today - which is also early, again, because the quota for the 2012 fishing season has been filled. As a result, no one should buy, sell, or have in their possession any sea cucumber after today.
Summit of the America’s to be held this weekend
Heads of government from the Western Hemisphere, including those from the United States and Canada are converging in Colombia for this weekend’s Summit of the Americas. The Belize delegation is led by the Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega and includes Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrington. Elrington met this morning with the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza. The OAS says they discussed the political climate and the main issues to be debated during the summit. The meeting took place in the Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala Convention Center, where the sixth summit will be held. One of the topics that is attracting discussion is the decriminalization of drug transportation which is threatening security in the region and has caused up to fifty thousand deaths in Mexico alone. Earlier this week, in his column Reflections, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, wrote that President Obama will be donning a specially designed guayabera. The origin of the guayabera was traced to Cuba and Castro noted that Cuba has been excluded from the Summit. The theme of the two day summit is “Connecting the Americas, partners for prosperity”.
US Visas Fees up by $40;
from $280 to $320
You may not be heading to Colombia, but if you intend to travel north, as of this Friday, the cost of applying for a non-immigrant US visa will increase by forty dollars and does not mean it will be approved. The hike in the fees is the result of a routine review by the US Department of State. According to the embassy website, the increase will support the addition and expansion of overseas facilities, as well as additional staffing required to meet increased visa demand. News Five spoke via phone today with Grace Genuino, the Chief of the Consular Section at the Embassy in Belmopan. She explains the new fees and says it is necessary to cover the cost of processing visa applications.
Via Phone: Grace Genuino, Consular Section Chief, US Embassy
“The fees, actually some of them will be going up and some will be going down. For the non-immigrant category—what will be most useful would knowing that the tourist and business visas which are the most requested categories, that fee is going to go up from one hundred and forty US so two hundred and eighty Belize to one hundred and sixty US which is three hundred, twenty Belize. So that would be the B1, B2 category. The transit Visa which is the C Visa; crew members (C1, Ds), student and exchange visitors (S, M) and Journalist visas which are I visas and then you have petition based visitors which are the H, L, O, P, Q and R category and then treaty investor trade visa that’s E and then fiancé visas which is the K category. Just to note, for the E and K categories, the fees are actually going down.”
“Any reason why the—particularly the ones that are going up—why was the increase necessary?”
Via Phone: Grace Genuino
“Well, it’s a worldwide study that the department has to do periodically because we have to recover the cost of processing non-immigrant visas through the collection of visa fees. We use MRVCs which are these fees that the public pays at Atlantic Bank here in Belize. The most recent update to that study was in December 2011 and the result from that study are these new proposed fees where you see some categories going up slightly while some categories are going down actually quite significantly.”
“So this applies in all countries where there’s a US Embassy.”
Via Phone: Grace Genuino
“Exactly, it’s not just Belize. These are new fees that are going to be applied worldwide as of tomorrow.”
“And I noticed on the website that there’s a period during which people can submit comments. Does that mean that the fees that have been published so far may be subject to change?”
Via Phone: Grace Genuino
“They will be taking comments and they are actually going to be reviewing and publishing with the final rule, the department’s responses to those comments. But the fees that they are proposing better reflect the actual cost of providing these services so the anticipation is that it’s not going to change. With the receipts that are issued by Atlantic Bank, any receipt that was issued up until today, we will honor for ninety days up until July twelfth 2012. So if they paid the two hundred and eighty Belize fee at Atlantic Bank for like a B1 or B2 category, we’ll honor that original receipt—they can redeem that with us to be considered for a visa or an interview until July twelfth, 2012.”
One piece of advice, the summer months are often overcrowded with applications so it’s best to try as early as possible.
Saga Humane Society
When: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Time: 6 - 9 p.m.
Where: Wet Willies
“SEAFOOD” is the theme!Come out to Wet Willies and meet the new owners Bruce, Diane & Steve, listen to some nice, live music, and enjoy the ‘SEAFOOD’ cuisine all while supporting the island’s Humane Society, SAGA.
The monthly cook-off is always a fun social event for the whole family. We look forward to seeing you all there!
Saga Humane Society needs your support to operate the Shelter. Without fundraising & your generous donations, Saga would not be able to care for the homeless, sick and/or abused animals of San Pedro Town.
Thank you for your continued support.
ONLY BZ$10 to sample all the entries! You vote for the winner!
*Prizes for 1st, 2nd & 3rd Place.
To enter a dish, please call the clinic at 226-3266, or contact any Saga representative. Your dish needs to serve a minimum of 65 bite size or sample size servings. Registration is not required, but encouraged. Please bring your entry by 6:00 p.m. on the night of the event. Food serving starts approximately 6:20pm. Tickets sell fast!
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