Riversdale fisherwoman Guadalupe Lampella and Placencia-bred fisherman Dale Fairweather are champions for the sea.
On Saturday, October 5th, Oceana formally recognized two extraordinary Belizeans as the 2019 Ocean Heroes. This year’s winners are fisherman and sea advocate, Dale Fairweather and fisherwoman and avid diver, Guadalupe Lampella.
Mrs. Guadalupe Lampella has been diving for conch, lobster and fish since childhood, quickly realizing that the sea and its bounty would become her lifeline. Growing up fishing in Southern Belize, Guadalupe has seen the depletion of fish stock throughout the years, motivating her to be an advocate for the health of our marine resources. In 2016, Lampella was recognized as the “Outstanding Fisher Folk” of that year. She has been an active advocate in her fishing community of Riversdale, often expressing the importance of women in fisheries and their role in sustainable fishing. Even today, Lampella urges us to do our part, to have that love for our country and to preserve it so that we can have it for tomorrow.
Guadalupe Lampella’s son, Alex Mendoza, accepted the award on her behalf.
Dale Fairweather grew up in the quaint coastal village of Placencia, an upbringing that inevitably tied him to the sea for life. A fisherman at Turneffe for over two decades, Fairweather has traversed the entire Turneffe Atoll in search of conch, lobster and finfish using a variety of fishing methods that he has continuously expanded with the changing times. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for the fisherfolk community, holding positions on the board of the Belize Federation of Fishers as well as the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association. In 2012, Dale played a critical role in the Turneffe Atoll receiving its protection status in the Marine Protected Area System. Fairweather also offers his personal time to educating students on the need for responsible management of our natural resources, specifically as it relates to the fisheries sector in Belize. Within his community and across the country, Dale continues to be regarded as a voice for the fishers.
“I think that everyone should be aware of sustainable fishing practices so that whenever they see that seafood on their plate, they’ll know how it got there, by sustainable fishing and not by just taking everything and just killing everything – the big ones, the small ones, everything – it’s a form of economic benefit for the country also that people know about sustainable fishing.”, shared Fairweather.
The Oceana Ocean Hero Awards began in 2009. Past award recipients are Lionel “Chocolate” Heredia, Dr. Melanie McField, former Fisheries Minister Rene Montero, Lisa Carne, Jamal Galves, Miguel Alamilla, Captain Romauldo Badillo Sr., Janet Gibson, Wil Maheia, Luz Hunter, Madison Edwards, Michael Heusner and Captain Earl David Jr.
Prime Minister of Belize, Rt. Hon. Dean O. Barrow is the sole recipient of Oceana’s Ocean Champion Award, which was presented in 2018 in recognition of Belize’s indefinite moratorium on offshore oil.
During the presentation of awards to both honorees, Oceana’s Vice President, Janelle Chanona, stated “Our Ocean Hero Award winners have done amazing things, but they didn't start at that level. Many of them came from humble or ordinary beginnings, but along the way, someone or something sparked their interest and their action. Tonight we are here to honor two Belizeans who are doing extraordinary things to ensure the future is both beautiful and bountiful. They illustrate that progress and change is within our reach. Their action and impact show us what Belize can truly do. Ahead of any laws, they are recognizing that behavior change is not just possible, it’s necessary. Our brave ocean has tried so very hard to take everything we’re doing to it but it can only do so much. We aren’t crazy for working to ensure that things like clean air, clean water and biodiversity are passed on to the next generation. Our loved ones have a right to those things. Like the tide, we rise and fall as one.”
The stained-glass awards were made by Belizean artist, Leisa Carr-Caceres of Lisa’s One of a Kind.