Fishermen intercepted with illegal lobsters

A group of fishermen suspected of making multiple raids in central and southern Belize for outlawed seafood were caught at it by authorities this week. The group faces individual and total fines of nearly $11,000 for lobster, conch and fish fillet that do not fit the prescribed criteria for capture or were captured outside of the official season. With details here is Fisheries Department supervisor Hampton Gamboa.

Hampton Gamboa – Fisheries department Supervisor:
vlcsnap-2013-05-15-19h38m29s35We got some information that a vessel was harvesting lobsters in the southern portion of Tobacco Caye range, Southwater Caye Marine reserve. This vessel came into Belize City Harbour yesterday morning right about minutes to nine.  [Through] quick response by Fisheries personnel, both in vessel and in vehicle, we were able to board this sail-boat, it was a commercial fishing sail-boat, and upon searching the vessel we found lobsters.  After we went through them and counted then in the presence of the Captain of the vessel, it came out to be 84 lobsters during the closed season.  A lot of these lobsters are very large lobsters, so it’s estimated to be about between 50 and 60 pounds. [There were ] 240 undersized conch, and also we have fish fillets without skin patches on them.   

If sold locally, the total value would be about $2000. According to Gamboa, there was an S.I. passed against the type of fish captured by the fishermen to protect the coral specimen and ecosystem of the Barrier Reef. He made it clear that the guilty will see their day in court.

Hampton Gamboa – Fisheries department Supervisor:
vlcsnap-2013-05-15-19h39m10s159We have decided to take this person to Court, and it will not be until the 10th of June. In that way we have leverage in terms of detaining the vessel and ensuring that this person doesn’t go out to sea to harvest lobster.  We got some information about this said vessel because from since Lobster Season closes on February 15th to June 14th, so far they have embarked on four trips.  This is the fourth trip.  We got report from the second trip that they were bringing in lobster.  We were unable to come across them while they coming in and thing like that.  They didn’t only use Belize City, they an assault to do their deliveries.  Hence we confiscate the fishing vessel and all the tackles on board, therefore this crew member won’t be able to go out again and do fishing until after the 10th [of June], once they are fined in the Court and charged in the Court.  Because if they go and plead “not guilty” then we’ll have an arraignment for a further Court date, and the vessel remain in our possession until the matter is finished in the Court and they’ve been found guilty or charged. 

The lobster season remains closed until June while conch remains closed until September.

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