Belize’s Punta Fuego Celebrates Responsible Fishers

June 5, 2015

Every Wednesday evening radio waves across Belize pick up Punta Fuego, the fiery narrative of passion and betrayal that follows the transformative adventures of a young fisherman named Ritchie.

The radio drama, a collaboration between the Belize Fisheries Department, PCI Media Impact and the Wildlife Conservation Society, draws in listeners with its dramatic characters and engaging storyline. The call-in show following each drama episode provides a space to discuss the characters and their choices. But based on preliminary data from a listener survey, the program holds on to listeners for more profound reasons.

“Finally, someone is talking to us, speaking to our issues,” one fisherman and listener said.

“It’s about [our] real life,” said another.

Belizean fishers are the primary audience for the drama. It seeks to shift thinking around risky overfishing in Belizean communities and motivate citizens to take pride in creating a sustainable fishery. And, true to our community-driven model, these fishermen are also its primary creators, bringing gems of knowledge to the table that allow its messaging to be well-rounded and humanizing rather than overbearing.

Following a technical explanation of the scientifically selected replenishment zones — areas in which all fishing is temporarily suspended, for marine populations to regenerate — a Belizean fisher broke it down in a way that he knew his peers would understand.

“Replenishment zones [in fisheries] are like your bank account,” he said.

That line, and many others, worked their way directly into the drama’s script, contributing to the authentic voice of the program.

True to its celebratory and empowering tone, Punta Fuego launched an Outstanding Fisher of the Year contest for World Environment Day. Its goal is to champion fishers with sustainable practices, emphasizing the agency they can have in preserving the sustainability of their own seas and livelihoods.

 

Read more about the contest in the Belizean press.

Visit Punta Fuego’s production page on our website for more information on the program.