Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Belize! Big furor between the public and Cabinet and Fisheries Department fiasco.

From Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development Facebook page (check the tax holiday -- 15 YEARS!):

Agreement with Rainforest Seafoods Ltd. (Jamaican company) and BELIZE GOVERNMENT

Here is is folks. Here's the agreement presented to Cabinet by Rainforest Seafoods/Mike Duncker.

In it, you'll see that this IS supported by the government, and that it clearly states that ALL 2,000,000 pounds of fish will be caught by non-Belizeans and exported out of the country.

Read it, weep, and then SIGN THE PETITION!!!!



The purpose of this Memorandum is to seek the approval of the Cabinet for the
construction of a state of the art fish processing plant in Independence Village, Stann Creek District by RAINFOREST SEAFOODS LTD. of Jamaica.


RAINFOREST SEAFOODS LTD. is a Jamaican company that imports over 1,000,000 lbs. of shrimp and marine fish from Belize through AQUAMAR LTD. that belongs to Mr. Mike Dunker. This company was established in 1995 and has a bonded warehouse facility that can store approximately 5 million pounds of products. It has 70% and 25% of the market share in Jamaica and nine (9) other Caribbean countries respectively. Its customer base includes major hotels, supermarkets and wholesale distributors in Jamaica.

Project Description
Rainforest Seafoods Ltd. will invest approximately US $1.5 million for the construction of a state of the art processing plant on 2 acres of land close to the deep water port at Big Creek, Independence Village in South Stann Creek. It is an export based investment that will provide direct employment for about 40 Belizeans and indirect economic opportunities to hundreds of local fishermen and their families. This proposed 10,000 sq. ft. facility will be able to process up to 2 million pounds of seafood per annum. Frozen products will be exported to the Caribbean whilst fresh produce will be sold to the US market. This means that products will not be sold in Belize to compete with fishing cooperatives.


Construction of the processing plant will commence in January, 2010 and expected finish in six months. The plant will purchase fish from local fishermen in southern Belize; however, it will also have its own fishing boats. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) will be responsible for HACCP certification before exportation commences. It is expected that it will also meet EU standard and ISO 9000 certification to facilitate shipment of products to Jamaica and United States market.

The company is requesting the following concessions in order to proceed with the construction of the plant:

a. Assistance to obtain two (2) acres of land at Big Creek for constructing the plant
b. Duty free access for all materials to construct and outfit the plant
c. Assistance with 44ov power supply to the site
d. Tax holiday for 15 years (export incentive)


The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries supports the planned investment
by Rainforest Seafoods Ltd. with the condition that all products are exported to Jamaica and other foreign markets.


The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries requests the Cabinet to approve the investment plan submitted by Rainforest Seafoods Ltd. for the construction of a processing plant at Big Creek and development concessions


Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
December 2, 2009
The idea of this investment is tragic. It is compounded by utmost ignorance from amateur politicians of the Cabinet, and to compound the farce, by their advisers, the Fisheries Department. The Southern waters of Belize have a very, very narrow reef shelf which is the Great Barrier Reef. The inland waters are about a 100 feet deep and fairly barren. Shrimping is successful in a minor way, as the bottom in many parts is mud, and shrimp like soft mud. There are a few coastal spots close to the mainland shore, which lend themselves to lobster, conchs and fish that would sustain a couple hundred traps. Most of the fish season in Southern Belize is tied to spawning times, usually over the full moon and on 45 minutes of null tidal flows changes, at certain months of the year. My generation of older fishermen totally depleted much of the grouper and mackeral and conch fisheries in our ignorance. Those spawning areas we depleted NEVER have come back in the past forty years. Caribbean waters are devoid of nutrients and fish groupings tend to be around rock outcrops beneath the water around which underwater tidal flows sweep nutrients and the turbulance and eddies make the nutrients fall out and available to fish schools. There are no big quantities of fish within Southern Belize. Most of the bottom is unsuitable and barren. Just take scuba tanks and dive the area as I have done. You can see three dozen fish around a set of sea fans, or coral rock, but if you drop a hook 50 feet away, they will not bite. If you do it right, you can catch a half dozen fish before the word spreads and the rest of the little school will ignore you. Then you must move to another location. The resident population is easily fished out. Then it stays barren forever, is what the evidence by observation show. The idea that Jamaican fishermen can come in with fish traps ( we have used them in Belize for 45 years )and catch millions of pounds of fish, with wire fish traps is ludicrous. We introduced them to Dominica and Jamaica back in the 1970's and 1980's. They would quickly go broke! That the Fisheries Department would even recommend this to Cabinet as a proposal leaves me aghast! If true, they should fire them all for incompetence. I can believe they were pressured to approve it, by the politicians though. They know better, or should! Now if you feed fish and grow your own hatchelings in a lab and force feed them in net ponds, that would be a different story. We don't have in the Caribbean the nutrient rich waters of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Greenland. Not going to happen. You have to supply the food though. The current strip of Barrier Reef is already overloaded with Sarteneja, Belize City and Placentia fishermen. This is the stupidest idea I've heard of in a long time. The only way this makes sense is if the Jamaican investors are selling shares in the company as a scam, and the Cabinet don't care if they fail, so long as they dribble a couple of million dollars into the construction business in their plant and office building. ( retired old fisherman with experienced opinion ) When I fished using snapper reels off the outside of the reef, I called it lucky to get 1300 lbs of fish in a ten day trip, of which only three days and nights would be constant fishing. Wire traps, forget it! Price fixing for fish by the government of the day, bankrupted my operation. The nurse sharks like to tear the wire traps up and they do too. It becomes prohibitive from a financial replacement viewpoint.

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