Posted: Wednesday, September 20, 2017. 2:22 p.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) issued a release today congratulating the Fisheries Department on their recent sting of operations that resulted in the confiscation of 8,980 pieces of off-season conch.
As reported on the media, about 1,500 pounds of conch was found within different fishing camps in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll this past weekend.
The BTIA believes that this type of illicit fishing activity is not a one-time operation and it is very organized and supports the illegal trade with Honduras.
“While we are pleased with the results of this conch bust, we recognize that much more needs to be done to protect our fisheries resources from those who seek to plunder it. With only 13 enforcement officers and limited fuel, the Fisheries Department will not be able to meaningfully deter and eliminate illegal fishing over the long term. The Fisheries Department does not have the resources or man power to properly police the fisheries law. This makes the huge conch bust that much more heroic,” the release stated.
The BTIA says that it condemns the illegal harvesting of conch (and lobster) as such activity jeopardizes the future of our fishing industry and also affects our tourism industry.
Conch and lobster are vitally important to our economy and their sustainability needs to be safeguarded. These two commodities represent a significant source of revenue for local fishermen, and play a vital culinary role in the tourism industry.
The association also reminded members and other tourism stakeholders that the open season for conch runs from October 1st to June 30th of the following year or until the national conch quota is met.
They also urge their member hotels and restaurants to not purchase off-season or under-sized marine products at any time.
The general public should report all suspected cases of illegal harvesting to the relevant authorities.
BTIA applauds the commendable efforts of the Fisheries Department’s Supervisor of Enforcement, Hampton Gamboa, on spearheading the enforcement of the fisheries laws and doing his part with limited resources to protect the fishing industry.
The release ended by reiterating that it is critical that fishermen understand the importance of abiding by the laws and regulations so that we may have a viable and lucrative fishing industry for generations to come.
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