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February 18, 2009

Belize passes landmark catch and release fishing legislation

Bonefish, permit and tarpon may not be possessed by any person or establishment in Belize, except in the act of catch and release.

It's official; on January 19, 2009, Belize lawmakers unanimously passed one of the most comprehensive catch and release fishing legislations in the world.  The legislation states that bonefish, permit and tarpon may not be possessed by any person or establishment in Belize, except in the act of catch and release.

"We are excited to announce this catch and release legislation which will further protect our marine life and the delicate coral eco-systems," said Tracy Panton, Director of Tourism for the BTB. "This law will help Belize retain its reputation as one of the world's most sought-after fly fishing destinations, and ensure further preservation of our rich natural resources."

A number of local fishing lodge owners in Belize, namely Alissa Gentry Flota of El Pescador Lodge, played a large role in the passing of the legislation.

"It is truly an honor to be part of a country that puts its natural resources and the environment at the forefront, as well as recognizes the importance of protecting Mother Nature to ensure our livelihood for future generations," says Flota.

The Costal Zone Management Authority as well as the Fisheries Department are assigned to manage the new legislation and organize permits for the approximately 100 fishing guides in Belize, as well as visiting sports fishermen. A press conference is expected to take place this month, to officially announce the new legislation.

The "Catch and Release" legislation is a testament to Belize's longstanding dedication to the protection of the country's wild and marine life. Over 40% of the country's natural resources have been dedicated to preservation efforts. From the creation of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the first and only Jaguar sanctuary in the world, to the dedication of Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the country has shown its strong commitment to conservation of natural life.

As one of the last unspoiled places on earth, Belize offers travelers the richly rewarding authenticity they seek in a Caribbean getaway. With direct flights from the U.S. and Canada, this tropical paradise is nestled between Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. For generations, the English-speaking people of Belize have demonstrated a commitment to preserving the country's unique charms. Belize offers a land rich in natural beauty and steep in the history and culture of its Maya past. Renowned for having the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belize's pristine waters, exotic marine and wildlife, lush unspoiled landscapes and superb diving truly make it Mother Nature's Best Kept Secret.

For more information on how you can be one with Belize, visit http://travelbelize.org/