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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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According to Miguel Alamilla, Manger of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, five individuals were caught illegally spear fishing at the Reserve on Tuesday night, July 28th. After various reports of illegal fishing in the area, the team of rangers and volunteers left to the reserve around 11PM. Alamilla stated, "We had received several reports of illegal fishing happening around that time and before we got to the marine reserve we saw lights out there. Somebody was flashing lights and we knew they were inside the protected area so we proceeded to check. Since it was night we had to be very cautious."

According to Alamilla as they made their way to the northern boundaries of the Reserve, the boat moved further north, trying to make its way out of the reserve. Alamilla and the team from Hol Chan caught up with the vessel carrying the name, 'Natural Mystic' out of San Pedro. Onboard was boat captain, Michel Kuhn. Kuhn initially denied fishing in the area, however after being explained the options available to him, as he was suspected of fishing in the protected area, he quickly caved and consequently ousted his accomplices. In the water, spearing were Roan Gonzalez, licensed tour guide; Guillermo Valdez, licensed tour guide; Melvin Montesino and a 13 year old minor.

All individuals were detained for the night by Fisheries via HCMR rangers and charged by the Belize Fisheries Department though the Hol Chan Marine Office on Wednesday, July 31st. All pleaded not guilty, and are now out on bail until their scheduled court date on Tuesday August 14th. If convicted, the individuals run the risk of facing a maximum charge of $1,000 or six months imprisonment, or both.

Alamilla is saddened by the entire situation, "What is really disappointing and very surprising is "who" were caught. Two of these guys are licensed tour guides, working in the Tourism Industry here on the island. What's surprising to me is that Tour Guides are doing it. The community is dependent on the reef and the Marine Reserves for tourism. Those fish are worth more alive than dead. In reality, it's very surprising that tour guides are engaged in this illegal fishing activity." Hol Chan plans on stepping up their monitoring and encourages individuals to report illegal fishing in a timely manner that the rangers can be more effective in protecting the area.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see photos in the San Pedro Sun

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,001
Wow. spearing fish at night? must have been to sell at a profit some big fish there .
They The way it looks not fishing for sport
or that they where lost ? at 11pm sure looks like Poaching ?
looks like all are in deep DOO DOO
Slow season has arived .And some people do what they need to do ?? Sad to say.

And before we hang these guys I would like to hear there side story at the court hearing.

Last edited by captjeff; 08/03/12 01:53 PM.

Living The Dream Every Day!
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,563
I haven't done a night dive in years but we used to call the big parrot fish VW's. They would secure themselves into crevices in the coral and excrete a protective film around themselves. They were so big that you could not get a picture of anything but one section of the fish. If this is what they were catching them double shame on them!
AND - Good for the officials doing their job and not backing off when they very easily could have.

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 6,267
I think their tour guide licenses should be attached or suspended.

Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,733
The full article talks about what the Tour Guide Association's position is as to their licences.

Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 462
Poaching is bad, I'm not at all happy about this issue.
However, no fish were taken, no evidence of fish parts were found on the boat, there is no evidence that they were actually within the boundries of the protected area. Boat was not siezed, licenses were not confiscated. There is no law against night snorkeling or fishing by the way.
Just as serious, a minor was taken into custody and locked up without contacting his parents, also, his name was released by the Holchan ranger. This in it's self is a serious offence.
Anyway, it is up to the courts to decide

Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,733
Well, I'll be! There are always two sides to a story. wink

Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,675
At midnight guides without tourist in the boat decide to go on a night snorkel tour in the reserve by themselves:-)
Fisheries needs the police to arrest and the coast guard to confiscate a boat. These guys are slipping by on technicalities.
We need to empower the fisheries a little more if they are going to successfully protect the reserve, give them guns and make them special deputies!

White Sands Dive Shop
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 462
It's a big ocean out there, no reason to even be close to the reserve.
No one resisted, or tried to evade. You think guns is an answer? Maybe when they go after the illegal long line fishing that has gone un-checked in Belize waters for, as you know, many years.

And like I said, I'm not very happy about this.

Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 955
If this is true, and as Elbert indicates nobody goes snorkeling at 11pm at night just for fun, so something smells fishy smile (excuse the pun) but if proven that these guys did that, then that is a TOTAL DISRESPECT and a smack in the face to every single Belizean and all others that make a living from Tourism and they should be ASHAMED and Embarrassed and a clear and extremely strong message must be sent here.

Nothing more than throwing the book at these guys, is appropriate and that means losing their licenses, big fine and time in jail, and plenty of press making a massive example of them.

This is a crime against thousands of people and it should be taken extremely seriously although I think the chances of any conviction based on whats been said so far is slim.


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