2 fisheries busts yield $20,000 worth of sea food
With Good Friday and the Easter Holidays upon us, the demand for fish has increased and so has vigilance by the Fisheries Department for seafood that is out of season. The Fisheries Department is today reporting a major bust of fishy products which were confiscated during several patrols. From about nine a.m. on Wednesday, the Police and Fisheries Departments and the Belize Agricultural Health Authority have been cracking down on persons in possession of illegal fishery products. At check points in Sand Hill on the Phillip Goldson Highway, officers of the joint patrol conducted searches on several buses. Inside buckets, iceboxes and even a sack, undersized conchs and lobster tails were hidden under snappers and other boney fishes. It is a huge bust for the Fisheries Department because approximately twenty thousand dollars worth of undersized conchs, lobster tails, small turtles as well as a small quantity of fish was seized.
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Hampton Gamboa, Conservation Compliance Supervisor, Fisheries Department
“What we did was that every vehicle, buses; every transportation that passed through the check point, we basically did a quick check of these vehicles and transportations as they passed through. As a result, on most of the bus that came in the afternoon, we found what you all see as a number of lobsters and conchs and as well as some confiscated turtles there—small turtles that we found at the check point. In addition to that, we also had at the same time, we were conducting patrols in the River Valley area whereby that also resulted in an individually being charged for illegal setting gill nets in one of the lagoons that is protected.”
“Now sir, it is the Easter Holidays and we all assume that fish is going to be on the menu, but it looks like it is not fish that these people are going for. It is fishery products that are one, not in season or undersized. What’s happening?”
“For the most part, all these things were found on buses so it can be presumed that most of the fishermen who came in for the Easter break, trying to get home up north; they basically took the law in their own hands to a certain extent and brought in some lobsters. And worse of all, as you can see, we have approximately three quarter sack of conch that was confiscated as found property off these buses. So it is only in our belief that most of these things belong to fishermen who were using the public transportation to get home before the Easter break.”
“No one claimed these items when they were asked…”
“Yes, of course no one claimed them hence the reason why we ended up with confiscating the entire buckets or the entire icebox that had in some fishes in there as you can see as well as all the different lobsters and conchs that were found in these different containers.”