Managed Access Program

Managed Access is a rights based fishing program that gives traditional fishers access to fishing grounds. In 2011 the Managed Access (MA) program was piloted at Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve (GRMR) by WCS in partnership with the Belize Fisheries Department and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to change the ‘open access’ fishing paradigm in Belize to one of limited entry. This program aims to reduce fishing pressure and the incentive to fish illegally by providing traditional fishers with secured fishing grounds. Over the last four years, since the MA program was introduced at GRMR, there has been a reduction in illegal infractions from 9% to 4%.  Stewardship of the area by fishers has also increased. Based on the success of this pilot project the Government of Belize, through the Fisheries Department is now looking at a national roll out of managed access to all marine areas. Through the MA program, licenses are issued annually to fishers according to criteria developed in consultation with fisher representatives.  Licenses allow fishers access to specific areas and require them to comply with regulations and report their catch.  The MA Committees, which include elected fisher representatives, are integrally involved in vetting license applications and guiding the progress of the program.

Julio R. Maaz, A.S.
Technical Coordinator Sustainable Fisheries