The Hol Chan Marine Reserve stepped up its enforcement activities by conducting a total of seventeen (17) random joint patrols along with the Belize Fisheries Department, Police Department, and the Belize Coast Guard over the three-week period. This was in conjunction with the closing of the Queen Conch season and the opening of the Lobster Season.
The Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas) season had recently closed at 12:00 am on June 19 as the quota had been met for that season, while the lobster season (Panulirus argus) opened until July 1, 2021. Hol Chan Marine Reserve informed the public of these via its social media pages and the Reef Radio morning show for a period of three weeks. Sea patrols were conducted at random hours early morning, throughout the day, and at night. Apart from sea patrols, several establishment checks were conducted, with some based-on information gained through the gathering of intelligence.
A new enforcement tactic that was also employed was working with the Traffic Department to conduct checkpoints with the police to look for illegal fisheries products that may have been moving through land to avoid the sea patrols. As a result of these tactics several persons and establishments were caught with illegal fisheries product and were taken to court and prosecuted, while there are still other cases pending in the court.
“We would like to thank all those community members that provided valuable information to us,” stated Hol Chan. “We also remind everyone that all persons engaged in commercial fishing must possess a commercial fisherfolk license including all person on the vessel and the vessel must also be licensed with the Fisheries Department. Only persons with a commercial fisherfolk license (not a finfish license) are permitted to harvest lobster and conch during the open season. All products harvested must be within the season and meet the required size limits. Anyone who has any information on any fisheries violation or Hol Chan Marine Reserve violations can contact us at 226-2247 or WhatsApp us at 615-8673.”