Who Gets the Fish in Belize?: Evaluating Seafood Access in an Urban Area
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Evaluating Local Access to Seafood in Urban Belize City By Roberto Pott May 2010 Small developing countries such as Belize face the dilemma of choosing between using their fisheries catch domestically to feed the population, which preserves cultural diet, or processing and exporting this catch internationally to contribute to GDP, which stimulates the Belizean economy. This study used social survey methods to assess the Belize City resident’s perception of seafood availability that considers the current production levels (supply) and distribution of seafood (access). Results revealed competition for seafood between the two primary domestic consumers, residents (households) and tourists (restaurants). Anecdotally, residents detected a reduction in seafood supply over the years but do not acknowledge reduced access. One inference is that resident’s view of access to seafood has broadened over the years to include retail, marketplace/supermarket access (raw seafood), retail/wholesale, cooperative access (raw seafood), and restaurant access (prepared seafood). These consumers may either have discontinued buying seafood because of the price or are unwilling to go to the current market site for health and safety reasons. An assessment of fisheries policies regarding domestic consumer access showed that current policies favor export and the tourism sector, since local households must compete with these groups. Moreover, consumption data for the tourism sector and residents are lumped together as a group by fisheries managers, and this gives the false impression that residents receives an adequate and affordable supply of seafood. In addition to ignoring the economic plight of low income households, current policies give minimal consideration to the cultural or social values of domestic seafood in Belizean communities. Future policies should incorporate cultural and social values, and one step can be the documentation of the allocation of fisheries resources in more detail. This information could inform economic analysis which is also recommended. Policy and allocations that could result from this analysis need to consider the residents’ economic, cultural, and social value positions for purchasing seafood; variable demands such as the fluctuating nature of the tourist industry and international seafood export industry; and tradeoffs between benefits from domestic consumption (microeconomic) versus benefits of international consumption (macroeconomic).
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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