“Belize is such a small country that everything is interdependent, and we all depend on the health of our pristine environment. So to see this fishing trawler converted from an environmentally destructive to an environmentally sustainable business is great news," Chaa Creek owner Lucy Fleming told Caribbean News Now.
“It also seems to be a symbol of the direction Belize is moving in,” she added.
Ms Fleming was referring to the recent hand-over of the “Northern II,” a former deep sea bottom trawler, by the international environmental organisation Oceana to the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society, to be used in a new seaweed farming venture.
When the destructive commercial fishing practice of bottom trawling was banned in Belize in 2010, Oceana bought the remaining two working boats. On 25 May, 2013, the “Northern II," was formally handed over to the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society, a village fishing cooperative.
According to Oceana vice president Audrey Matura Shepard, the organisation gave the Placencia Village co-op the trawler for one dollar after reviewing the seaweed farming project and deciding it was economically feasible and environmentally sustainable.
“When we saw this very innovative project that will not only take out from the sea but will also put back what they take out, and keeping a certain level of equilibrium, it had to be something we support,” Shepard said.