Posted: Thursday, June 8, 2023. 4:23 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Randolph Aragon, 40, of Antelope Street, Belize City, and Vidal Orellano, 30, of Lacroix Boulevard, Belize City, are in big trouble after a major bust of conch and lobster caught out of season and prohibited fish species.
The bust was made by Fisheries Department officials on June 6 at 3:45 a.m. on a vessel located 1 1/2 miles south of the Stake Bank development.
Aragon, Orellano, and 37-year-old Aison Weir were jointly charged with using a vessel without a valid fishing license and pleaded guilty before Senior Magistrate Baja Shoman, although Weir told the court he was not actually fishing at the time and was simply catching a ride with the others. Nonetheless, anyone found on a vessel conducting fishing operations that does not have a license to do so is liable.
Aragon and Orellano were jointly charged as well with possession of 24 conch in closed season; possession of 28 lobsters while in closed season; and two counts of possession of prohibited fish species for 23 angelfish and 58 filleted angelfish.
For the conch, each man was fined $1,000 and cost of court and $50 for each conch, totaling $1,200 but each will pay half that amount for a total of $1,600 each.
For the lobsters, both were fined $1,000 and cost of court and $50 for each lobster. The total would be $1,400 each but each man will pay $700 for a total of $1,700 each.
For the raw angelfish, each was fined $1,500 and cost of court and $1,000 per angelfish, totaling $23,000. Each man will pay a total fine of $13,000 each.
And for the filleted angelfish, each was fined $1,500 and cost of court and $1,000 per filleted angelfish for a total of $30,500 each.
The fines, to a total value of $96,425, are all due by November 30, in default six months’ imprisonment and distress, i.e., the court will take any valuables from their home and sell it to pay. Since Orellano and Aragon pleaded guilty, Weir saw the charges withdrawn from him and he was free to go.
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