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Apr 5, 2018

More Illegal Fishers in mid-South

Three Honduran fishers are behind bars tonight after they were charged for fishing illegally within a marine protected area. Southern Environmental Association and Belize Coast Guard were on a joint patrol on Monday night within the spawning aggregation zone at the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. There, they arrested three illegal fishers, seized their vessel and illegally harvested fish, comprising several fin fish species. The men, who identified themselves as Mario Banega, Jesus Alvarez and Jolbin Flores were taken before the Dangriga Magistrate Court on Wednesday. We spoke with SEA’s Deidra Mahler about the bust and charges levied on the illegal fishers.

 

On the Phone: Deidra Mahler, Education & Science Manager, SEA

“The products that were confiscated consisted of a variety of fin fish products. It includes mutton snappers which is one of the species out there during the spawning aggregation season, as well as the cubera snapper which is another fish that aggregates for spawning. There were also some barracudas, some jacks that were caught. The guys were also charged for engaging in illegal fishing within a spawning aggregation zone because there are eleven sites, protected sites, within Belize and the Gladden Spit and Silk Caye Marine Reserve has one of those sites. Unfortunately, the guys weren’t charged for illegal entry. There were three men assumed to be Honduran from Puerto Cortez. We found no kind of identification on them, so we had to go with what they had said to us.   The immigration persons were contacted and the case file was prepared by SEA. It was sent to the fisheries prosecutor and the immigration prosecutor. Ultimately, SEA is only mandated to enforce fisheries regulation. So, for an immigration charge to be levied it would have had to come from the immigration department.   The case was heard today in Dangriga Magistrate Court and all of them were successfully charged for engaging in illegal fishing within the spawning aggregation areas; they were also charged with use of boat for commercial fishing without a boat license; they were also charged for illegal fishing without a fishing license. The three men were charged nine hundred and fifteen dollars each. We won the case this morning in Dangriga and I believe the men have been remanded.”

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