Three men from the south were found in possession of two hundred and thirty seven illegal conch. These men were caught in the Twin Caye Area in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. The bust was a joint collaboration between the Belize Coast Guard (BCG) and the Fisheries Department. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCG and the Fisheries Department have collectively engaged in joint operations to protect our waters. The first time offenders attempted to flee from authority but were later apprehended, as explained by Hampton Gamboa, the Supervisor in Conservation Compliance Unit.
Hampton Gamboa, Supervisor, Conservation Compliance Unit: “There were three fisheries officers and two Coast Guard officers on that operation when they came across a vessel and upon trying to search the vessel the vessel ended up running away, drove off and threw bags in the sea and the officer had to pursue. While pursuing a couple of the officers went overboard to retrieve the product and the vessel continue to be chased and was finally intercepted and during the interception process there were three individuals onboard the vessel who threw away the two sacks. Upon retrieving the two sacks it was identified as unprocessed conch that was inside the content of the bags that were retrieved by officers. These three individuals were then detained and informed of the offence they had committed and have since been charged with the offence of possession of conch during the closed season.”
Though fishers are allowed to fish outside the curfew hours, they sometimes take advantage of this opportunity by engaging in illegal activities.
Hampton Gamboa, Supervisor, Conservation Compliance Unit: “For us this area in particular in the south has been a little bit problematic because yes the fishers are entitled to go out to sea to fish primarily it’s only fin fish but some of these guys use the opportunity to do other illegal activities so hence the reason why we have to have continual patrols, joint operations with the Coast Guard which I must be grateful for to express to the Belize Coast Guard thanks for their support during this time as well as our ministry and the Fisheries Department for us to garner the support as well as fuel and all our necessary things for us to be conducting these additional patrols at this time that we have to execute.”
The three men were arraigned in court for the offense. Conch season is closed from March 27 to October 1.