This afternoon, two fishermen, one from Santa Elena and one from Progresso, were ordered to pay $1,290 each after they pleaded guilty to two fisheries offences in the courtroom of Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer
Dionicio Edwards, 35, of Santa Elena, Cayo District, and Julius Chi, 29, of Progresso, Corozal District, were charged with one count each of being in possession of two Nassau groupers out of season, and one count of being in possession of 26 fish fillets without the required two inch by one inch skin patch.
Three other fishermen were summoned to appear to answer the same two charges, but up to the time of the arraignment of Edwards and Chi, had not showed up at court.
The incident occurred last Sunday, March 29, northwest of Crawl Caye on the Turneffe atoll, where Fisheries officers found the men with two fillet Nassau groupers and 26 fillet fish, which did not have the skin patch, which is required for identification purposes.
The two fishermen are first-time offenders, and Frazer imposed the fines of $250 each for each count plus $5.00 cost of court. That’s a total of $510.00, but the men were both charged $30.00 each for each of the 26 Nassau grouper fillets in their possession; this amounted to another fine of $780. In total, the two must pay the court $1,290 each.
They were both given until April 30 to pay their fines. If they default, they will have to serve six months in prison.
According to Fisheries prosecutor Hampton Gamboa, the men were all summoned to show up in court today, but only two showed up.
The Nassau grouper season runs from December 31 to March 31. During this period, it is illegal to catch the fish.