Officials say the lobsters will be given to schoolchildren
Ishmael Llewellyn Moody, 78, a fisherman of #6389 corner Tibruce and Heart Streets, was arraigned before Magistrate Hettie-Mae Stewart for being in possession of over 2,000 lobsters in the off season. The closed season for lobster is from February 14 to June 14 each year.
According to police, on Friday, May 31, 2013, personnel from the Fisheries Department were in the area of Moody’s house when a member of the Fisheries team, Eric Arzu, reportedly spotted Moody with a large black plastic bag in his hand that looked suspicious.
Arzu decided to conduct a search on Moody and the bag, and that was when he found the bag contained out-of-season lobsters. A further search of Moody’s premises led to the discovery of a whopping 2,051 pieces of lobster, totaling over a thousand pounds in weight.
Moody appeared in court today based on a summons, since it was a Fisheries offense he had committed. He appeared with his lawyer, Arthur Saldivar, and pleaded not guilty to the charge. He is scheduled to reappear in court on July 3, 2013.
This is Moody’s first alleged offense, and if found guilty of the charge, he could be fined as much as $30 per lobster, which would amount to $61,530.
According to reports, 19 garbage bags containing about 145 lobster tails each were confiscated by the Fisheries Department. It is estimated that the commercial value of the illegally harvested lobsters is around $20,000.
Fisheries Supervisor Hampton Gamboa said that the department’s special operations led them to the findings.
“Since the lobster season has closed, the Fisheries Department has been engaged in a number of operations so that we can basically manage the fishery in an effective manner during the closed season, with the help of the general public also and of course, the police department,” he said.
Gamboa said that information they received from the general public led them to the products on Friday.
He also said that for the past few years, persons have been bringing in large quantities of lobster catch within the first week of the open season, some of them already frozen. That practice has caused cooperative personnel to complain.
“They say people bring in lobsters that are still frozen which means they have been stockpiling before the season,” he said. “Once that happens you find out that the integrity of the product for the cooperative goes down and also their value. Now the co-op will be forced later on, when they’re ready, to export low quality products.”
Gamboa said that the confiscated lobsters will be distributed to feeding programs at different schools.