Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Hol Chan Marine Reserve busts fishermen with illegal marine products


The Compliance and Enforcement Unit at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) has been busy conducting patrols with the San Pedro Police Formation, both at sea and on the island. These joint efforts recently led to several individuals being arrested and charged with different offenses. These included possession of lobster during the closed season, possession of undersized Queen Conch in shell that did not exceed seven inches in length during the open season, possession of unprocessed Conch that did not exceed 7.5 ounces in weight during the open season, possession of market clean (partially processed) conch that did not exceed three ounces in weight during the open season, and possession of conch during the closed season. These offenses carry penalties starting from $500 fines or up to two years imprisonment.
According to HCMR, all offenders were charged and taken before the Magistrate Court for the offenses committed. Management at HCMR reiterates that the Queen Conch season has been officially closed since June 9th and will re-open on October 1st later this year. Therefore, it is crucial that no one should have any conch in their possession. Regarding lobster, the 2024-2025 season is set to open on July 1st. Until then, Hol Chan emphasizes that no one should have any lobster in their possession until the season opens next month.

These types of offenses are, unfortunately, not isolated incidents. In previous years, these joint patrols have encountered not only fishermen with illegal conch and lobster but also other marine species, including protected species like parrot fish. Fishermen have also been engaged in commercial fishing without holding a valid fisherman’s license. Additionally, individuals have been prosecuted for using commercial vessels to fish without a valid boat license. This history of recurring offenses underscores the need for continuous enforcement and public vigilance in marine conservation.
Hol Chan thanked the San Pedro Police Formation for their unwavering support and thanked all stakeholders who provided information in these cases. The public is strongly urged to play their part in marine conservation by promptly reporting any violations against the Belize Fisheries Regulations or the Hol Chan Marine Reserve Regulations. They can do so by contacting them at 615-8673. All tips will remain anonymous.

Photo courtesy of Hol Chan Marine Reserve

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