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Sep 27, 2023

Sarteneja Fisherman Fined $38K for Out-of-season Conchs

The conch season officially opens on Sunday, October first, and will run through to the end of June 2024.  If the production quota is realized earlier, the conch season will be declared closed.  Tonight, however, seven fishermen from various parts of the country have been charged jointly for possession of conch during the closed season.  This morning, personnel from the Fisheries Department escorted thirty-year-old Juan Cruz, eighteen-year-old Jamie Jones, both residents of San Jose Village, Orange Walk District; twenty-three-year-old Steve Young of a New Road address here in Belize City; forty-four-year-old Oscar Mis; father and son duo, Naim Quintanilla senior and junior, as well as sixty-six-year-old Elizardo Flores, all of Sarteneja Village, to the lower court where they appeared unrepresented before a magistrate.  On Tuesday night, the men were busted by fisheries officials onboard a sailboat behind Northern Fishermen’s Cooperative on North Front Street.  In their possession were sixty-nine pieces of conchs.  In court earlier today, Mis pleaded guilty and was imposed a fine of ten thousand dollars which he was ordered to pay by January 2024.  He was additionally fined three thousand, four hundred and fifty dollars, the cumulative cost of all the pieces of conch that were found on the “Princela”.  The charges were subsequently withdrawn from the other individuals.  Despite taking ownership of the illegal fisheries products, Mis was fined another eight thousand dollars and three thousand dollars as penalty for the conch.  Charged separately for possession of six pieces of out-of-season conch was Juan Cruz.  He pleaded guilty and was fined five hundred dollars, as well as an additional three hundred dollars in penalties.  Steve Young, who initially claimed ownership of the conchs pleaded not guilty and was offered bail in the sum of two thousand dollars.  But, by two p.m. today, the men were taken back to court where Mis took ownership of another sixty-three pieces of conchs and was fined ten thousand dollars on top of the previous sum.  Additionally, he was slapped with a penalty of three thousand, one hundred and fifty dollars, bring his debt to a total of thirty-eight thousand, four hundred and twenty dollars, to be paid within the first two months of 2024.

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