The conch season opened officially at midnight on October 1, 2015 … but it seems that some fishermen wanted to get their bulk of conch first and beat the rush for this well liked seafood. The only problem with that is that they were caught by officials within a twelve hour period before the season opened. Love News was at the Fisheries compound this evening where we saw the second set of men being escorted off a vessel. Fisheries Officer, Hampton Gamboa explained what these eight men were caught with and where.
“The officers from that marine protected area were doing an evening operation that was going to last until about midnight just to ensure that we don’t have culprits harvesting conch before the season opened this morning and fortunately for us they came across these guys with conch during the closed season. There were eight persons that were charged. One individual had over 302 pieces and the smallest quantity that any one of them had was 23 conch.”
While these eight men were unlucky to be caught about two hours before the season opened, there were two other men who were caught near the Turneffe Atoll midday yesterday and subsequently charged with possession of conch during the off season this morning in the Belize Magistrate’s Court. Those two men are Darry Flores and Osmar Verde, who both pled not guilty.
“Yesterday afternoon there were two persons involved within the Alligator Caye range towards the Columbus Caye. Officers who were coming from a south patrol yesterday came across two fishermen in a dory and when the officer approached them they basically discarded their product in the water and started paddling away. The officers retrieved the product and they were the only persons in the approximate area and the officers were actually approaching them when they threw it overboard and this was two half sacks of conch amounting to 365 individual conch.”
Now these two cases we have told you about are about ten fishermen who chose to begin harvesting conch prior to the opening of the season …. But tonight, there is another case that the Fisheries Department are dealing with and that is the discovery of fishermen harvesting conch in a protected area. There are three men reportedly involved in this third matter as Gamboa explains.
“That third one involves the harvesting of conch inside a protected area out at Lighthouse Reef. It’s a large quantity which I can’t disclose unit l I actually have the products here at our department so we know the quantity.”
“When are you expecting that to come in?”
“In the morning from Lighthouse Reef.”
According to Gamboa, while some may view that the Fisheries Department should show some leniency considering that the busts were made just some hours before the conch season opened, he says that will not be the case.
The conch season is scheduled to close on July 1, 2016 unless otherwise stated by the Fisheries Admi