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Apr 17, 2014

1 man detained for illegal gill net fishing in protected area

Hampton Gamboa

While no one was arrested for the illegal seafood found on the buses, one man, a resident of the Belize River Valley area, was arrested on Wednesday following a patrol of the lagoons and rivers in the Belize District. While he has not been charged, the Fisheries Department claims that he was detained with illegal gill nets while fishing within a protected area. According to Gamboa, in the busts made over the past twenty-four hours, fishermen have been illegally harvesting undersized conch and lobster.


Hampton Gamboa, Conservation Compliance Supervisor, Fisheries Department

“We use the two days to also educate these bus drivers and conductors because their claim is that whenever they dock at the bus terminal in Belize City, everyone gets on the bus and people just throw their bags or throw their buckets on the bus. So we are trying to encourage them that they need to work with us or else in the future we will find a way that we basically hold them responsible for this type of action.  What I explained earlier on today also is that the quantity of products in there. If we had found individuals and we fined them for these products in the court, we are looking at probably fifteen thousand dollars, twenty thousand dollars worth of product being charged for in the court. With the cost of lobsters during the close season and penalties and fine, it would amount to roughly about fifteen to twenty thousand dollars in the court.”


Duane Moody

“Could you just tell us why is it believed that these illegal activities have been going unabated?”


Hampton Gamboa

“Well you see, the fishermen are the stakeholders and generally speaking, the fishermen are the ones that need to realize that we all are a part of this and we need to ensure that we do our part—as fishermen, as the department responsible for fisheries resources in Belize. So they need to be in partnership with us just to ensure the longevity of the lobster industry for their benefit and their children’s benefit because it is unbecoming, it is disrespectful to find that you still have some fishermen who doesn’t get the real understanding of what we are trying to do, why we have a close season. It is to ensure the longevity. This is the time that lobsters normally mate and basically you are trying to destroy them when they are most vulnerable because they don’t move a lot during this period of time so they are more susceptible to being caught. We are trying to maximize our enforcement in every aspect so we are trying to ensure that the general public is also being educated and informed with what we are doing. So we believe that when we came to work earlier this week, this will be a good time to do certain checks like these because you find out that a lot of the fishermen will be coming it. So it coincides with everything especially at this time of the year and it is also a part of our check and balance in the closed season in particularly for lobster.”


So while conch and lobster are out of season, later in the newscast, we will tell you about the price of fish going into the Easter weekend.

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