Jose Cruz, 53, was fined a total of $8,735 for illegal possession of conch and lobster on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court.
Fisheries officials on patrol on Tuesday, May 14, conducted a search for illegal marine products on Cruz’s boat, Giana, in the Belize City harbor. Cruz had in his possession 85 lobster tails and 240 conchs.
They found, in the bow of the boat, a kit bag containing a black plastic bag with what appeared to be lobster tails. Also found in the bow was a knapsack containing two plastic bags with suspected undersized conchs amidst some clothing. A T-shirt in the bag was wrapped around plastic bags containing more conchs.
In the stern of the boat were two aluminum pots with a plastic bag containing both lobster and suspected undersized conchs. Both lobsters and conchs were found inside a small bucket in the stern. In the mid-area of the boat, lobsters were found wrapped in two jeans pants.
The lobsters were counted in the presence of Cruz. He, along with the products, was taken to the Fisheries Department in Belize City, where the conchs were weighed. They weighed three ounces each, which is below the allowed weight of conch that can be captured and sold, according to Fisheries regulations.
He was charged for the possession of undersized partially processed conch, for which he was fined $300, $5 cost of court, and an additional $25 for each piece of conch, amounting to $6,305. He was given until October 30, 2013, to pay each fine, or in default he will serve six months in prison.
Cruz was also charged for the possession of lobster during the closed season for which he was fined $300, $5 cost of court, and $25 for each piece of lobster, amounting to $2430. He was given until October 30, 2013, to pay the fine, or in default of which he will serve six months in prison.
Both defaults would be served concurrently if Cruz does not meet payments by the date given.