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National Observer Program

Belize-High-Seas-Fisheries-Unit-fishjpg

Belize’s National Observer Program has been established by the BHSFU for the purpose of collecting and reporting reliable and accurate information for scientific, management and compliance purposes including:

  1. the species, quantity, size, age and condition of the fish taken;
  2. the methods by which, areas in which and the depths at which fish are taken;
  3. the effects of fishing methods on fish and the environment;
  4. all aspects of the operation of the vessel;
  5. processing , transportation, transhipment, storage or disposal of any fish; and
  6. any other matter that may assist the BHSFU to obtain, analyse or verify information for the purpose of scientific, management and compliance purpose

The aim of the Program is to achieve 100% coverage consistent with the recommendations of the relevant RFMOs. The coverage will also be representative of the different vessel type, fisheries and areas of operation.

The Program covers all vessels including carrier vessels and shall be carried out in conjunction with the Regional Observer Programs of RFMOs. The level of coverage shall be adequate to facilitate robust assessment and evaluation of the effects of fishing; ideal observer coverage shall be analytically established against clear objectives to ensure representative and systematic reliable collection of observer data across the fleet, fisheries, species, area and seasons.

Belize National Observer Program is being managed by the BHSFU and its operational functions are carried out by Capricorn Fish of South Africa.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE OBSERVER PROGRAM

The Observer Program provides fisheries managers, research organizations, regional fisheries management organization, the fishing industry and the wider community with autonomous, dependable, substantiated and precise information on the activities and practices of fishing and fishing related vessels operating on the high seas and in the jurisdictional waters of other States.

The Observer Program allows for the placement of trained observers on board Belize flagged vessels as required in accordance with our Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Regulation .

WHAT OBSERVER DATA IS USED FOR

Observer data, in addition to catch and effort data obtained by other sources assist the BHSU and by extension the relevant regional fisheries bodies in setting total allowable catches for each quota species. It is also important in helping to measure the level of interaction with non-target species such as seabirds and sea turtle, fish aggregating devices and buoys.

VESSELS REQUIRED TO CARRY OBSERVERS

All vessels are required to carry observers when required by BHSFU. The BSHFU will notify the operators when they have been nominated to carry an observer. Notice is given well in advance of such placement. However, in some cases operators may be contacted at short notice to carry an observer when unforeseen circumstances arise.

OBSERVER COVERAGE – HIGH SEAS

Our Regulations allows for 100% coverage but exceptions are made for those vessels operating in the EEZ of other States to a minimum of 25% coverage or as may be required by the relevant RFMO in whose area the vessel operate.

OBSERVER FEES

There is a fee-for-service when an observer is placed on board a vessel. For specific information on observer fees contact the BHSFU Office at 501-22-34918 or email us at bhsfu.gob@gmail.com

REQUIREMENTS OF OPERATORS WHEN CARRYING AN OBSERVER

When a vessel is nominated to carry an observer on board, the owners/operators must ensure:

  • that an observer, observer’s safety equipment and monitoring devices are on board the vessel when it commences its trip.
  • That the observer is carried safely on the vessels and is provided with adequate food and accommodation while on board.
  • The observer is given the necessary assistance by the master and crew and is given full access to all parts of the vessel, to the extent reasonably necessary to allow the observer to complete his duties.
  • The master or crew shall interfere with, or obstruct the work of the observer in the collection of his data and/or samples.
  • When a vessel does not meet the requirements to carry an observer, the owners must take steps to rectify any deficiencies.

REFUSAL TO CARRY OBSERVER

Under national laws, a fishing vessel or vessels engaged in related activities licensed to operate under the Belize flag are required to carry an observer. When an owner/operator refuses or fails to carry an observer as required a ‘Notice of Compliance with the Observer Program’ will be issued to the vessel owner/operator.

Failure to meet the terms of the notice may lead to suspension of the vessel’s license of other disciplinary measures.