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| 2 fisheries busts yield $20,000 worth of sea food
Apr 17, 2014
With Good Friday and the Easter Holidays upon us, the demand for fish has increased and so has vigilance by the Fisheries Department for seafood that is out of season. The Fisheries Department is today reporting a major bust of fishy products which were confiscated during several patrols. From about nine a.m. on Wednesday, the Police and Fisheries Departments and the Belize Agricultural Health Authority have been cracking down on persons in possession of illegal fishery products. At check points in Sand Hill on the Phillip Goldson Highway, officers of the joint patrol conducted searches on several buses. Inside buckets, iceboxes and even a sack, undersized conchs and lobster tails were hidden under snappers and other boney fishes. It is a huge bust for the Fisheries Department because approximately twenty thousand dollars worth of undersized conchs, lobster tails, small turtles as well as a small quantity of fish was seized.
Hampton Gamboa, Conservation Compliance Supervisor, Fisheries Department
“What we did was that every vehicle, buses; every transportation that passed through the check point, we basically did a quick check of these vehicles and transportations as they passed through. As a result, on most of the bus that came in the afternoon, we found what you all see as a number of lobsters and conchs and as well as some confiscated turtles there—small turtles that we found at the check point. In addition to that, we also had at the same time, we were conducting patrols in the River Valley area whereby that also resulted in an individually being charged for illegal setting gill nets in one of the lagoons that is protected.”
“Now sir, it is the Easter Holidays and we all assume that fish is going to be on the menu, but it looks like it is not fish that these people are going for. It is fishery products that are one, not in season or undersized. What’s happening?”
“For the most part, all these things were found on buses so it can be presumed that most of the fishermen who came in for the Easter break, trying to get home up north; they basically took the law in their own hands to a certain extent and brought in some lobsters. And worse of all, as you can see, we have approximately three quarter sack of conch that was confiscated as found property off these buses. So it is only in our belief that most of these things belong to fishermen who were using the public transportation to get home before the Easter break.”
“No one claimed these items when they were asked…”
“Yes, of course no one claimed them hence the reason why we ended up with confiscating the entire buckets or the entire icebox that had in some fishes in there as you can see as well as all the different lobsters and conchs that were found in these different containers.”
| 1 man detained for illegal gill net fishing in protected area
Apr 17, 2014
While no one was arrested for the illegal seafood found on the buses, one man, a resident of the Belize River Valley area, was arrested on Wednesday following a patrol of the lagoons and rivers in the Belize District. While he has not been charged, the Fisheries Department claims that he was detained with illegal gill nets while fishing within a protected area. According to Gamboa, in the busts made over the past twenty-four hours, fishermen have been illegally harvesting undersized conch and lobster.
Hampton Gamboa, Conservation Compliance Supervisor, Fisheries Department
“We use the two days to also educate these bus drivers and conductors because their claim is that whenever they dock at the bus terminal in Belize City, everyone gets on the bus and people just throw their bags or throw their buckets on the bus. So we are trying to encourage them that they need to work with us or else in the future we will find a way that we basically hold them responsible for this type of action. What I explained earlier on today also is that the quantity of products in there. If we had found individuals and we fined them for these products in the court, we are looking at probably fifteen thousand dollars, twenty thousand dollars worth of product being charged for in the court. With the cost of lobsters during the close season and penalties and fine, it would amount to roughly about fifteen to twenty thousand dollars in the court.”
“Could you just tell us why is it believed that these illegal activities have been going unabated?”
“Well you see, the fishermen are the stakeholders and generally speaking, the fishermen are the ones that need to realize that we all are a part of this and we need to ensure that we do our part—as fishermen, as the department responsible for fisheries resources in Belize. So they need to be in partnership with us just to ensure the longevity of the lobster industry for their benefit and their children’s benefit because it is unbecoming, it is disrespectful to find that you still have some fishermen who doesn’t get the real understanding of what we are trying to do, why we have a close season. It is to ensure the longevity. This is the time that lobsters normally mate and basically you are trying to destroy them when they are most vulnerable because they don’t move a lot during this period of time so they are more susceptible to being caught. We are trying to maximize our enforcement in every aspect so we are trying to ensure that the general public is also being educated and informed with what we are doing. So we believe that when we came to work earlier this week, this will be a good time to do certain checks like these because you find out that a lot of the fishermen will be coming it. So it coincides with everything especially at this time of the year and it is also a part of our check and balance in the closed season in particularly for lobster.”
So while conch and lobster are out of season, later in the newscast, we will tell you about the price of fish going into the Easter weekend.
| Ladyville youth stabbed multiple times
Apr 17, 2014
Sometime either late last night or in the early hours of the morning a teenager from Ladyville was stabbed multiple times. Police are in the middle of their investigations and details are scarce, but we understand that Parrish Copious is currently in critical condition at the K.H.M.H. This morning, News Five visited Copious’ home in Ladyville, but nobody was home and neighbours would tell us only that Police were there this morning processing the scene. A check at the K.H.M.H. confirmed that Copious underwent surgery this morning, and late this afternoon, Rural Executive Officer, Assistant Superintendent Christopher Noble, told us that while he could not say much, they are looking for persons of interest and believe they will have them in custody soon.
ASP Christopher Noble, Rural Executive Officer, Police Department
“Earlier this morning we learned that a gentleman from the village had been taken to the Military Hospital and then on to the Karl Heusner. He was being attended to there but apparently procedures had to be done on him. We’ve established that an incident did occur in the village and there is one person that is being sought. And we are hoping that by day’s end we will have wrapped up the information to give something comprehensive. However, we know there was a stabbing, and that is from the injuries that we understand he received. We have received the information from him and we’re working on whatever other processes to get it sorted out.”
“We understand that Police were processing the family home very early this morning. Could you give us an idea of what was found there?”
ASP Christopher Noble
“Firstly every home is a family home because a family resides there…but there is a residence that was being processed. As to who resides there…at this stage I cannot reveal that to you. But we have established where an incident occurred last night late. The persons that we are looking for are known to the Police and we established that earlier, so we will be looking out for them.”
News Five understands that one man who is being sought by Police is a known criminal who was shot in Ladyville three weeks ago.
| Canada issues a travel advisory against Belize
Apr 17, 2014
A United Nations report recently released has placed Belize as the third most dangerous country in the world and that dubious distinction might be having some effect. So far this year, there have been twenty-eight murders as a crime wave sweeps across the country. To many, Belize is the perfect tourism destination, but the grim statistic about the insecurity and violence is prompting reaction by governments. Today, the Canadian government issued a travel advisory to its citizens planning to visit the jewel. According to the Canadian government, “criminal activity, including armed robbery, mugging and sexual assault, is a significant problem throughout Belize. Robberies and assaults have been reported in resort areas. There has been a noted increase in violent crime targeting tourists since the end of 2013.” The advisory also warns Canadians to be careful near the western border with Guatemala where armed robberies occasionally occur. It further states that cases of sexual assault against female travelers have been reported. In respect of travel within Belize, the alert says that roads are often poorly maintained and lit and that Canadians should be careful crossing bridges on the Hummingbird and Southern Highways. The alert extends to travel by sea because passenger boats are deemed unsafe and so are public buses and taxis. All in all, it’s not good news for visitors planning a trip to Belize.
| The demand for fish jacks up the prices
Apr 17, 2014
Holy Thursday is a busy time for vendors because fish and other types of seafood will traditionally be consumed on Good Friday. At the various fish markets this morning, we found that the demand for fish has driven the price up to an average of eight dollars per pound. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The yearly congregation of fish lovers at the Conch Shell Bay Fish Market near Vernon Street during Holy Week has always been a sight; vendors wheeling and dealing the rising prices of their daily catch to eager customers. The cost this time of year is quite steep but it does not affect the overwhelming demand.
Alfred Ramirez, Fisherman/Vendor
“The fish dehn dah eight dollars right now. Right now gas expensive, yo goh out deh yo wah pay nine dollars, eight dollars, five dollars, six dollars. Gas dah twelve dollars a gallon yo check. Now I dah only di clean man ah cyant sell right now cause farm me usually buy and sell. Ah cyant sell because a di way di price dehn di go. So right now as yo notice ah di slice up dis barrow ya and di try hurry dis fi geh wah next job.”
While some may fuss about the steep prices, others agree that Easter is a fisherman’s Christmas. They understand that along with great demand comes the business of supplying that need.
“Easter da bout fish and we can’t eat di money so we have to keep di tradition going right. I noh live ya, I live dah LA but once I cohn I wahn my fish. So if da eight dollars, if da five dollars I wah buy my fish because I wahn my fish, yo know. Dat da di bottomline, di man dehn go out deh go work haad fu bring di fish. Yo have to give di man dehn weh dehn due, da no like, you know. Fishaman job da noh no easy job, da haad job so you have to give di man dehn weh dehn due.”
Chef Alex, a popular cook at the Radisson, is on the hunt for a sizeable snapper that is reasonably priced. The problem though, is that big snappers are a rarity this time around.
Chef Alex, Customer
“Hearing from different people, you know, I hear it is very much expensive and that is, the fishermen are saying, due to the raise [in the price] of fuel as well you know, so you know if the fuel raise the fishermen they have to raise their prices too, noh.”
On display is a fresh catch of snappers, jacks and several other exotic fish, despite the scarcity of a generous catch.
“Normally we woulda just go out and ting a couple days and like right now fi dis Easter we just di try do wah lee ting. Right now we di sell fi like six or seven dollars a pound fuh di jack and ting right now yoh dig.”
For those who were not able to beat today’s rush the fishermen who vend at the foot of the Vernon Street Bridge say they will be on hand tomorrow morning only.
“Di ketch weh come een yesterday I get rid ah dat and I deh pan di second ketch. Di man gaan da sea again because ih di try bring the third ketch fu tomorrow weh da di bashment day dehn call it, you know. Right now di price noh really raise yet, di price ah raise tomorrow when yo wah seh like dehn ya right ya soh wah sell fu like, tomorrow dehn ya wa be eight dollars a pound, nine dollars a pound depends pan di size right. Di small one dehn wah sell fu like five, six dollars. Some people wah sell dehn fu like maybe ten dollars, you know. Each and everyone to dehn own.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.
| Gracie Rock caretaker arraigned for theft
Apr 17, 2014
A caretaker of the Gracie Rock area is being accused of eight counts of theft which allegedly occurred at the Everyday Supermarket, located in Hattieville, a well-known grocery store in that community. This morning, twenty-seven year old Sherman Hemmans was arraigned before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer. Allegations are that between March twentieth and April first, he dishonestly misappropriated over five thousand dollars from the supermarket, owned by Joseph Fuzy. In court, Hemmans pleaded not guilty to all charges and since there was no objection to bail by the court prosecutor, Inspector, Hector Rodriguez, Hemmans was offered bail and was ordered to be back in court on June third, 2014.