Today, the Wildlife Conservation Society, in collaboration with the Fisheries Department – Belize, the Belize Port Authority, the Belize Coast Guard, and the National Fishing Cooperatives, officially launched “Use of the Mobile Transceiver Units (MTU)”, also called the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), for Belize’s commercial fishing vessels.
The MTU/VMS device provides a GPS location of the fishing vessel every 15 minutes, which is received by the monitoring center, being hosted and monitored by the Belize Port Authority on a 24-7 basis. The Belize Coast Guard and Belize Fisheries Department will also assist in monitoring; and local protected area managers will assist in search and rescue alongside the BCG, BPA, and BFD.
It will allow managers to ensure that fishing vessels are operating within their license fishing areas and help to deter illegal fishing within replenishment zones. The tracking device has an SOS button that, when triggered, will send an alert that is received by the monitoring center.
The officers of the monitoring center will then coordinate with local authorities to provide support for those fishers in distress.
All our partners have expressed support for this innovative initiative, which, they say will help them in achieving their organizations’ objectives and one of WCS’s goal of sustainable fisheries.
The MTU project is being implemented with funding from Oceans 5 and the US Department of State.