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Apr 7, 2011

European chef, guide and paramedic go fish, but get hooked by Law

Philip Baudu

Peter Gunwesen

A European chef, tour guide and paramedic have been in Belize for six months, but when they headed out on a fishing trip last Friday, they found themselves in a conservation zone and in trouble with the law. Thirty-eight years old Peter Gunwesen and Philip Baudu as well as forty year old Bertrand Gauje, were taken to court on Wednesday and were initially charged for Fishing in a Marine Reserve near Caye Caulker. The charge against Peter was withdrawn because it is believed that he was taken on a tour by the other two men. Meanwhile, Bertran and Philip were ready to plead guilty, but their attorney, Said Musa pointed out that the charge against them should have been for Fishing in a Conservation Zone. Musa also argued that there were no buoys or signs in the area and that the men did not have any fish in their possession when they were detained.

Bertrand Gauje

Magistrate Sharon Frazer dismissed the charge against the men based on Musa’s arguments, but also because she noted that the accused men are first time offenders and they are foreigners who probably didn’t know that they were in a protected area. Magistrate Frazer said that the offense warranted a warning, rather than charges. After being freed of the charges, the European nationals told our court reporter that they plan to leave Belize within three weeks.

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19 Responses for “European chef, guide and paramedic go fish, but get hooked by Law”

  1. Owresident says:

    the law is never the same for foriegners….

  2. abi says:

    What a crime!!! Please hang them….buoys Are too expensive and in the sea it’s so easy to see bounaries….hang them high!!!

  3. Bruce says:

    @Owresident This is why we have Magistrate’s

  4. SW says:

    Of course they knew that they were in the wrong area. This is what foreigners do. They break laws and pretend to be ignorant about the facts especially in third world countries. This does not only happen in Belize; however, I am sure that they have been observing the system in Belize for the last 6 months and knew that nothing would really happen if they were caught.

  5. Lindsay Howard says:

    Wonder if they had fishing licenses? And, who was the foreign “tour guide?” I thought only Belize nationals were eligible to be tour guides — for reasons of just this type.

  6. Getaclue says:

    “the law is never the same for foriegners….”

    exactly, tell me how many locals have been brought before a court for fishing in a marine reserve… zero, zip, nada….

  7. BZNinCALI says:

    Was it the baited fishing lines or the dead fishes floating in the water near their boat that gave them away? Anywhere else, they would have been fined, if they were working as tour guides they should have known what areas were off limits.

  8. Tina says:

    Years ago we were pulled over by marine park wardens and they said we were in a reserve and when we asked how far out from the reef then is the reserve all they kept saying is much further out, much further out. Crstal clear ya?

  9. Belizean girls says:

    Ever been to Europe. Ignorance is no excuse they do not care if you are a foreigner when it comes to their rules and laws you must adhere to it because charges will be levied against you whether you knew or not. That is a fact.

  10. daveyt says:

    They sghould have been fined. Eveyrone that goes out to see to fish must be aware of the conservation zones, and prohibited areas. They may not be marked by bouys, but they are on charts, or the information held by the Fisheries Dept. & Port Authorities. It is every fishermans responsibility to be aware of where they can and cannot fish – foreign or Belizean – No Excuses!! Ignorance of the law should never be an excuse. You have to make sure you know the laws affecting fishing, and exactly where you can and cannot fish before setting off on a fishing trip.

    Besides, they got caught this time. How many other times had they, or others plundered our conservation areas in the past, or will do so in the future, knowing that they will more than likely never get caught, and if they do, will not get prosecuted?

    But we are talking about white Europeans, with money (Otherwise ‘Follow de Money’ Musa wouldn’t have taken on the case). Had they have been working class Belizeans, especially dark skinned, what would have been the chances of them getting let off with just a caution?

  11. CEO says:

    When did ignorance become an excuse for the law? If they were going fishing they need to fameliar themselves with the law before they went fishing.

    No Belizean would be treated this way in the countries they are from.

    I think there should have been a fine even a minimal one just so the law can rule.

  12. Swamp Dragon says:

    Holy Mackerel people! How many fish did they take? They were probably fishing and releasing their catch. What should they get? Three years like the gringo fool who stole 3 beers?

  13. shock says:

    I’m a Belizean living abroad for many, many, years in different countries and I can say that it is my experience that law enforcement in many country will overlook minor offenses commited by foreignors in their country. Fellow Belizeans I notice that a great many of you are very hard on foreignors if they are accused of offenses in Belize, be it criminal or petty offense, yet you want foreignors to come and rescue the country from the pitifull economic conditions that is rampant in the country; that you can’t do for yourselves; what you call bake your cake and eat it at the same time. I’ve been to many countries on the continent of Africa and when they found out that I was a lack man fron another country, the reactions were:WELCOME HOME; and the hospitality were unbelievable. What I saw by Belizeans toward Africans is, they are not there equal. Still holding to the notion that was thought to us in churches when I was a child about the DARK continent of Africa.

  14. Elgin Martinez says:

    Swamp Dragon:It’s not about the quantity of fishes or beers.The point is that an offense was committed.

  15. RadicalBelizean says:

    Good arguments Rod. This time I think it was a good decision.

  16. Gustav says:

    If our maritime areas are so precious that we must preserve them [and I believe they are], then we must do so properly.

    English law back to the Magna Carta says that the crown must give people due notice of what the law is. That means we must plainly mark the boundaries, and then enforce the law fairly.

  17. John Boy,Carson,Ca says:

    I notice an anti sentment amongs a lot of Belizeans towards foreignors.The guy that received 3 years for stealing 3 beers.That is not justice.Musa did a good job defending his client,and yes he did it for money.That is the reason we all work to received money.

  18. chabelli says:

    Now I see why we need foreifn trained Magistrates,and the entire judiciary always plays these games who is a former p.m with recotd of superbond fama?????????

  19. Jesus J. says:

    The fisheries department are so corrupt that they would rather waste everyone’s time and the country’s money on trying to prosecute a couple of gringos for drifting in a channel rather than stop the people who are actually responsible for causing all of the damage to the marine life. They take payoffs from reef rapers and look the other way. They make up laws and boundaries as they go. The fact that there were no markers in the water does seem to pose a problem. How in the hell is anyone (tourist or local) supposed to know that they are in protected waters if there were no boundaries marked. And don’t give me the “locals know the boundaries” crap because I see local boats fishing in the protected areas every day. If you are going to enforce laws, then follow protocols and treat everyone the same!

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