BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 23, 2020– In the early growth years of the Belize fishing industry back in the 1960s when cooperatives were just getting off the ground, seafood was pretty much a staple food for most Belizeans, with the occasional beef and game meat, and the special treat — chicken for Sunday dinner. All manner of fish as well as conch, lobster (not very popular and even used as bait by some) and various turtle species, the favorite being the “oxbill” (Hawksbill Turtle), were commonly and cheaply available at the local market situated at the foot of the Swing Bridge.
Nowadays, the price has soared for most of the seafood just mentioned, but they are still generally available. Lobster and conch have an Open and a Closed season to protect the sustainability of the fishery; but there is now NO Open season for any turtles, which are all on the Endangered Species list.
So, fishermen beware! They say, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse;” and the Fisheries Department today sent out a Public Notice, which we reproduce below:
Reminder — Protection of Sea Turtles
Mon. Nov. 23, 2020
The Fisheries Department hereby reminds the PUBLIC that in accordance with Regulation 10 of Statutory Instrument No. 66 of 2002, under the Fisheries Resources Act No. 7 of 2020:
• No person shall fish for in the waters of Belize or buy, sell, or have in possession any turtle of the following species:
a) Eretmochelys imbricata (Hawksbill Turtle)
b) Caretta caretta (Loggerhead Turtle)
c) Chelonia mydas (Green Turtle)
d) Dermochelys coriacea (Leatherback Turtles)
• No person shall take any turtle found on land; disturb, take, buy, sell, or have in possession any turtle or turtle eggs; or interfere with any turtle nest, except under written permission from the Fisheries Administrator.
• No person shall buy, sell, take, or have in his possession part of turtles or articles made of any part of turtle.
Any person found in contravention of these regulations will be prosecuted in accordance with section 14 (1) of the Fisheries Regulation, Chapter 210s of Subsidiary Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2000-2003.