Many of those living in Belize may take the beautiful marine habitat around them for granted. Â With the crystal waters of the coast allowing people to watch the wonderful sea life below, it can be hard to think what life is like living away from the coast.
However, many people do live inland, and crave the chance to watch and learn about marine life. Â For fish enthusiasts, BelizeÂs tropical aquarium exports allows them to keep their own slice of the underwater realm. Â In addition, it helps fund the Belizean economy.
Since 1973, Belize has been supplying many beautiful marine fish for the aquarium trade. Â Three of the businesses from the 70s are still in existence today, with Marine Life Belize, Colson Bay Investments and Tropical Fish Imports/Exports still shipping specimens to the United States of America. Â All three firms have license agreements that enable them to catch a diverse range of fish, allowing people in America to fill their marine tanks with stunning Belizean wildlife.
Belize Fisheries DepartmentsÂ James Azueta said that to gain the right license, the applicant must be Belizean. Â ÂYou have to apply in writing and submit a proposal specifying the targeted specimen, area to be worked in, handling facility, and shipping destination, etc. Â The proposal has to be very concise. Â However, an application does not guarantee a license, as the areas of collection are large in order to ensure the sustainability of the trade,Â he explained. Â Azueta added that the area was tightly regulated and controlled to keep the conservation of fish species in mind. Â For example, itÂs important for Belize to ensure that good populations of native fish are maintained; otherwise some species in peopleÂs tanks could become a rare sight in the open water, and those living in Belize would miss out.
In a process that may interest some individuals, fish are caught in carefully developed nets from Japan that ensure that specimens arenÂt harmed in any way. Â Only specific atolls and reefs can be used for collections, and endangered fish, along with parrot fish, sea cucumbers, tangs, black shiny sea orchid and sports fishing species, can be caught. Â Meanwhile, the three companies can catch no more than 90,000 specimens each year. Â However, even this amount helps to contribute $100,000 to the Belizean government annually.