Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019. 9:21 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Four hicatees (Central American river turtle) was one too many for 30-year-old James Seguro, fisherman-farmer of Biscayne, Belize District.
It will cost him $2,000 after fisheries officer Elvis Williams made the bust past noon on Monday, July 22. A total of four of the turtles were found.
The fine is due by March 23, 2020, in default, six months imprisonment.
In February of this year, a police patrol near mile thirty-two on the George Price Highway intercepted a vehicle transporting eight live hicatees. The turtles were confiscated and released back into the wild. The seven persons inside the vehicle were all served with a summons of intended prosecution for the offenses of fishing of female hicatee turtles greater than seventeen point two inches and transportation of more than five turtles.
The turtle is considered a delicacy in the villages but is greatly depleted in population, according to the Fisheries Department.
The Hicatee turtle has been listed as a critically endangered species by IUCN, and since 1993 Belize has implemented laws to ensure their conservation and long-term survival.
In accordance with Section 12:02 (b) & (d) under the Fisheries Act Chapter 210 of the Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2000-2003, no person shall:
* Have in his possession more than three such turtles at any one time;
* Transport on any vehicle more than five such turtles.
* Fish for such turtles during the period 1st May to 31st May inclusive of any year;
* Fish for female turtles greater than 43cm (17.2 in) and smaller than 38cm (15.2 in);
* Sell or purchase such turtles
Anyone found in possession of Hicatee will be prosecuted in accordance with section 14A (1) of the Fisheries Regulation, Chapter 210 of Subsidiary Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2000-2003.
The Hicatee turtles are endemic to the region and found along the coastal lowlands of southern Mexico, northern Belize and Guatemala.
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