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Feb 1, 2016

Fisheries Department Makes Major Undersized Conch Bust

The Fisheries Department is reporting a huge bust in undersized conch made on Sunday evening. Officers were on routine patrol in the Turneffe Atoll when they came up on the SOL, a sailboat with eight fishermen on board. Five of those fishermen, from the Sarteneja and Copper Bank areas of Belize, are in custody while three others are bringing the sailboat into Belize City. Today News Five visited the Department where over seven hundred pounds of confiscated conch were being weighed and processed.


Hampton Gamboa, Supervisor, Conservation Compliance Unit

“Officers who were on a routine check in the area saw a sailboat coming from the Lighthouse Reef marine Reserve. So upon entering the Harry Jones Channel, they searched the vessel when it reached inside the lagoon and they came across a large quantity of suspected undersized conch. The persons and the vessel were detained and they started the processing last night because they actually found the vessel in the area about couple minutes to six yesterday evening. They processed most of the product and then we ended up processing the rest here this morning. So far, it is well over seven hundred undersized conch which comprises of market clean as well as unprocessed conch. Market clean conch has to exceed three point zero ounces for it to be of legal size; this is by the fisheries regulations and so on. The unprocessed conch has to exceed seven point five ounces. The unprocessed conch is when the fisher or an individual removes a conch from the shell where all the guts and the extremities are still attached. So therefore that has to exceed the seven point five ounces. Once it exceeds the seven point five ounces, it is of legal size. If it is less than seven point five ounces, then it becomes illegal. So far, we have found a hundred and ninety-two unprocessed conch and five hundred plus undersized individual market clean conch.”


Hampton Gamboa

Mike Rudon

“Give us an idea of street value.”


Hampton Gamboa

“Street value—the thing is with it, if you are looking at four, looking at three ounces in a pound…it’s roughly about six conchs per pound…if it is undersized, you will have about six. If you are looking at seven hundred, you are looking at a hundred and something pound of conch. Street value, it is like six dollars a pound for conch…seven eight depending on where you are getting it from. So if you want to average it, it is roughly about eight hundred and something dollars; close to a thousand dollars.”


Mike Rudon

“We notice that the fishermen caught on the boat are hiding behind us. In terms of penalties…what penalties would they face?”


Hampton Gamboa

“For the unprocessed conch, they are looking at a maximum of committing the offense of five hundred dollars and for each individual it is anywhere between twenty to thirty dollars which is at the discretion of the magistrate to penalize and fine the individual as it relates to the fisheries law and the range of committing the offense. So if you have seven hundred and something undersized conch and you multiple that; even if the magistrate chose to give you a minimum of twenty dollars per conch, you are still looking at roughly about fourteen thousand dollars.” 

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Fisheries Department Makes Major Undersized Conch Bust”

  1. EL DIABLO says:

    Stupid….. Really stupid people fishing the waters these days….. makes me laugh…

  2. Belizean Pride says:

    And Mr. Gamboa what do you plan to do with them(conchs)? That means if you eat it you should be penalized for consuming illegal conch harvest.
    This is a question that most media should ask what will be done with the conchs? If they take it away and destroyed that is worst than the crime committed. I understand it’s against the law to harvest conchs at this time but what about the it?
    Also when the contrabandistas are caught what is done with the products taken away. I guess we should ask the departments for clarification because it make no sense that the same officers stopping this things to happen end up enjoying the things taken away.

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