Hol Chan Marine Reserve identifies possible Illegal conch harvesting
Friday, July 17th, 2015
The Conch Season for 2015 officially closed on June 1, 2015, and this clearly means that no one is allowed to legally consume or be in possession of Queen Conch products until the season reopens on September 30, 2015. A little over a week ago, while personnel from the Hol Chan Marine Reserve were conducting a search for turtle nests in Northern Ambergris Caye, the team made a disappointing discovery. They found signs of what appears to be illegal conch consumption along the beach areas in North Ambergris Caye.
The illegal sightings were spotted at Robles Beach, one of the most isolated areas in Northern Ambergris Caye. The area is especially active on weekends with people engaging in recreational activities. According to Hol Chan’s Marine Biologist Kirah Castillo, they are not sure who the culprits might be, although they have their suspicions. “We found signs which tell us that people are extracting illegal products while they are using the beach. There were traces of conch, and the season has already closed. We don’t know who is doing it, but more than likely its locals, but still we cannot say who is involved,” said Castillo. She also emphasized that this activity is one of the biggest concerns at Robles Beach, a prime turtle spot.
The closure of the Queen Conch season is in accordance with the Fisheries (Amendment) Regulations under Statutory Instrument number 54 of 2012 (Regulation 24.A). The public is reminded that no person or establishment shall have in their possession any conch during the closed season in accordance with Regulation 6 of Principal Regulations (Chapter 210’s of the Laws of Belize – Revised Edition 2000-2003). Anyone found in possession of the Queen Conch will be charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The Fisheries Department makes a special appeal to the fishing community and the general public to uphold the Fisheries Regulations in regards to conch and other marine products. The cooperation of everyone is appreciated in the sustainable use and conservation of this important fishery resource.
The Fisheries Department advises all responsible citizens to report any illegal activities by calling the department at 224-4552 or 203-2623.
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