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Aug 22, 2013

Fishermen charged with taking conch during closed season

Ernesto Vasquez

A pair of Belize City fishermen, caught in the act of harvesting conch from Southern Long Caye on Wednesday, by a team of fisheries officers, was before the court today after being charged jointly with the offense of taking conch during closed season.  They are forty-four-year-old Ernesto Vasquez and forty-one-year-old Lloyd Reyes of a Conch Shell Bay area address.  This morning, both men appeared before Magistrate Clive Lino to answer a single charge.  Reyes pleaded guilty to the offense, while Vasquez pleaded not guilty.  It is reported that on Wednesday both men had in their possession a hundred and ninety-nine conchs, removed from the waters in front of Southern Long Caye during the closed season.  In court, Reyes took the rap.  As a result, the charge against Vasquez was withdrawn and he was free to go.  Reyes was fined five hundred dollars which he must pay in full by September thirtieth or in default he will spend six months in prison.  But, that was not all the fines he will have to pay, for each of the hundred and ninety-nine conchs he had, Reyes was fined an additional twenty dollars per conch, a total of three thousand, nine hundred and eighty dollars which he has to pay by December twentieth.

Lloyd Reyes

According to fisheries officers Duane Garcia, Eric Arzu and Mark Gentle, they and two other officers were conducting a patrol in their vessel when, at about two-thirty p.m., they spotted a skiff with two occupants.  Upon reaching the vessel, Officer Gentle saw one of the occupants throwing two objects overboard.  When the officers went to investigate what was thrown overboard, they found two white crocus sacks floating on the seabed.  They retrieved the two sacks and its contents revealed processed conch.  Both men were escorted to the Fisheries Office in Belize City, where the officers counted the conch in their presence.

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