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Fisheries Department makes bust of illegal conch

The Fisheries Department and the Belize Audubon Society were in a joint operation early this morning which targeted fishermen who were diving for conch. Conch season is close and so those fishermen are in violation of the laws. Hampton Gamboa, Supervisor of the conservation Compliance unit at the Fisheries Department told us about an estimated four hundred and fifty pounds of conch they found.

Hampton Gamboa – Supervisor, Compliance Unit

“The area which we were targeting is the northern key that is where the new proposed development is supposed to happen, we have some fishers that we have been monitoring who are going out during the close season targeting conchs during the closed season so basically this operation was geared towards seeing if the they are still harvesting or what the situation is. Fortunately for us we came up on an icebox, three of our officers departed here early this morning went in the said vicinity and at about after 12pm this afternoon when they were able to get cell phone contact with us they informed us what they found.”

Gamboa says that according to the officers that made the discovery no one was found in the vicinity of the icebox.

Hampton Gamboa – Supervisor, Compliance Unit

“According to our officers who were involved in this operation, they found it inside the mangroves, well tucked inside the mangroves, the canopy of the mangroves, fifty yards from the seashore of the island, inside the mangroves. That’s a complete mangrove area. No one was found there. We can only speculate because there were a number of fishing fleet within two miles or a mile from where they were within a mile so they didn’t know which one actually had it there.”

Gamboa told us when the conch season will closed and when it will reopen.

Hampton Gamboa – Supervisor, Compliance Unit

“Conch season in Belize closed from July 1 to September 30 which basically means it reopens on the 1 of October but also due to the quota system that we have for the conch in Belize, whenever that quota is realized, it is set at the beginning of the season, then that season is closed. This year it was closed earlier. It was closed from the first of May because the quota was realized from late April.”

Penalties for having out of season conchs are a charge of possession of conch during the close season, which carries a fine of about five hundred dollars and twenty five dollars per individual conch.