Tonight two Belize City men are faced with 3 counts of illegal fishing after they were caught with 8 hicattee turtles by officers of the Fisheries Conservation Compliance Unit. The men were in an area called Mexico Creek just outside of Sandhill Village when their boat was searched by the officers who found the hicattees inside a gill net. The law clearly states no person shall have in his possession more than 3 turtles at any given time nor should these turtles be captured using a net. Also 4 of the turtles were undersized and one was oversized. So the two men were detained by the officers and the turtles are now in the possession of the department where stats will be taken and then they will be release back into the wild. We found out more:..
Hampton Gamboa - Fisheries Supervisor, Conservation Compliance Unit
"Actually it happened Just outside the village of Sandhill and just before when you are entering Biscayne area over the bridge. About 25 yards away from the bridge there is a dirt road that we got some reports for the past couple days from the villagers that there are people setting nets and they are harvesting hicattees on the area. So last night we set out an operation team of 3 fisheries officers and an officer went to the area about after 9pm, they got into the area about agter 10. For information sake, it is illegal to use nets to harvest hicattees and also hicatees are not to be sold by anyone. In addition to that you are allowed to go out and catch hiccatees with the exception with the 1st of May to the 31st of May every year and individuals are only allowed 3 per person. So these 2 individuals that we found they had a total of 8 and that's because officers also informed me that the fishermen who were harvesting the hiccatees were able to release some while they were trying to pull out all the nets."
"These individuals will be fined $500 and then in addition for the net, they can be charged up to $2,000 and also in addition to that for the females that are smaller, that are juveniles and the ones that are extremely large, they can also be charged an addition $500 for each one."
"At this time they are detained?"
"We have detained them and we have offered them station bail this morning."
The men are expected to appear in court tomorrow. And just to note, it is illegal to catch Hicatee between may first and May 31st.
While the local name is Hicatee, the formal name is the Central American River Turtle.