Posted: Friday, April 22, 2022. 8:36 am CST.
By BBN Staff: Five fishermen from Chunox Village, Corozal District who were caught with over 500 undersized conch were fined over $30,000 in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
The five men, 60-year-old Elias Chavez, 21-year-old Neider Hener Santoya, 26-year-old Edgar Isael Chan, 36-year-old Abimael Amin Santoya, and 22-year-old Francisco Javier Mai, appeared unrepresented in court and immediately pleaded guilty to being in possession of a total of 509 undersized conchs.
The men were caught at sea on a vessel named “Sianely,” during a joint operation between the Belize Police Department, the Audubon Society, and the Fisheries Department on April 12. They told the court that the illegal fisheries were to be used to make ceviche for a party over the Easter Holiday.
Each man was given a fine for the offense and also had to pay $50 per undersized conch, which saw them fined a collective $30,300.
Reports are that the fine represents the largest penalty levied against fishermen for undersized fisheries since the penalties contained in the Fisheries Act were updated.
Notably, six fishermen from Chunox Village were arraigned on Wednesday after being caught with over 500 undersized conchs. They all pleaded not guilty and are out on bail, with their next court date scheduled for May 26.
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