CBC and DoE round up island-hopping poachers

| 05/02/2019 | 42 Comments
Cayman News Service

Illegally caught marine life seized 19 Jan 2019 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

(CNS): Customs and Border Control Agency officers, assisted by Department of Environment conservation officers, recently netted several suspected poachers at Owen Roberts airport on their return from fishing trips to the Sister Islands. The DoE is warning people taking lobster and conch to stick to the take limits, as set out under the National Conservation Law (NCL) while the season remains open. On Monday evening, 28 January, border control and DoE officers searched a number of passengers returning to Grand Cayman after they received reports that people were travelling with significant amounts of conch and lobster after the holiday weekend.

Passengers searched on two flights that evening from Little Cayman and Cayman Brac led to five people being warned for prosecution and several more given verbal warnings.

DoE Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr explained that while the catch may have been legal at the time, the possession of an accumulative catch was not.

“These individuals had large amounts of lobster and conch in their possession, stored in single coolers,” Orr said. “Whilst those creatures may have been taken legally by the travellers over a few days, NCL regulations do not allow any one person to possess more than the prescribed daily limit of lobster or conch.”

The daily per person catch and possession limits for lobster is three and for queen conch it is five during the open seasons, but that means people travelling with nine lobsters caught over three days, for example, are breaching the law by being in possession of the weekend’s catch, even if the marine creatures were taken legally in the first place.

Over the last few days another two people were intercepted by CBC officers at the airport in a similar situation after officers searched their coolers. In one case on Sunday, a man travelling from Cayman Brac was discovered to have 12 conch and five lobsters, again both over the daily limit, and he was warned for intended prosecution and the marine life confiscated.

Then on Tuesday morning, 5 February, officers stopped a woman travelling from the Brac who had 20 conch and five lobsters in a cooler. The woman stated that she had been asked to bring it over for a friend. That catch was also confiscated and an investigation is now underway.

The DoE has also been clamping down on the misuse of spear guns. On Saturday, 19 January, conservation officers seized a total of 54 fish of various kinds as well as a lobster that officers said were caught using a spear gun.

In addition to exceeding his daily catch limit of three fish, the person in question, who is licensed to use a spear gun, had allowed two other men to use it, in contravention of the owner’s licence conditions, officers said.

“Spear-gun licence-holders who do not follow their licence conditions risk losing the privilege to possess these weapons,” said Scott Slaybaugh, DoE deputy director for operations and enforcement. “They may also face prosecution under the NCL for such lapses.”

In all cases the marine life confiscated was donated to the Pines Retirement Home.

To report suspected marine offences in the Cayman Islands, members of the public are asked to call 911 or to contact DoE conservation officers directly by calling Mark Orr on Grand Cayman (916-4271) or Mike Guderian on Little Cayman (925-0185). On Cayman Brac, the public is asked to call 911 to report marine offences.

See catch limits and seasons in the CNS Library

Map of Marine Parks on DoE website

For more information contact DoE Public Education and Outreach Officer Brent Fuller via phone 244-5984/922-5514 or email brent.fuller@gov.ky

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Category: Border Control, Crime, DoE, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (42)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    For how long will this DOE placate us with stories of their latest benevolent warnings, while asking the public to step-up tips on violations of NCL? It feels a bit like the Charlie Brown Football gag where Lucy is playing some other game we don’t quite understand.

  2. Anon. says:

    I read the article and I think I understand what it is saying but it doesn’t make sense to me.

    IMO, the clause in the NCL regulation is foolish.

    I have a big event coming up in three months; I am allowed to catch three lobsters a day so over the course of the lobster season I have adhered to the limit per day but if I now have 18 lobsters in my possession at one time I am breaking the law?

    Can someone tell me how Lobster Pot and other restaurants, who purchase from local fishermen, are abiding by this law?

    Are they only serving three lobsters per day?

    What was the objective of the law? To preserve lobsters and conch but because the enforcers can’t prove or disprove that I didnt catch 18 lobsters in one day, they decided that once they catch me with more than three at any one time I am breaking the law?????

    This is another fine example of some “great” mind that thought they were being clever when it just make them look like a damn fool.

    • Anonymous says:

      It works everywhere else. You just want to take whatever you want whenever you want. What we need is enforcement. Restaurants import lobster because Cayman doesn’t have enough.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! Seems to me that DOE is really needs to get on the ball and make an example out of all of the people selling conch and lobster meals at our local festivals and all the restaurants in the islands by inspecting their fridges. Please start with the upcoming Agriculture Show. Every vendor should have to prove that all their conch used in meals are purchased from Costuless or one of the wholesale distributors.

      Oh, and DOE, by the letter of the Regulations aren’t you causing the Pines to be an illegal operation by allowing them to be in possession of more than the amount allowed to be caught in one day?

      • Anonymous says:

        Very good question!! And killing them with cholesterol!!

      • Anonymous says:

        On principle, we shouldn’t have any merchants selling slipper lobsters, or baby 2-3 inch spiny lobster tails, esp. with provenance unknown. Even Honduras Marine Regulations require a min length of 5.5 inches for spiny lobster tails. The Cayman Islands shouldn’t be providing a liquidation market for any illegal juvenile catch from anywhere.

    • Anonymous says:

      Innocent until proven guilty. If it’s a crime to have more than three lobsters in possession at any given time then like the above poster has pointed out, what about the restaurants? Or do the laws only pertain to the small man?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am confused by this statement:

    ” Orr said. “Whilst those creatures may have been taken legally by the travellers over a few days, NCL regulations do not allow any one person to possess more than the prescribed daily limit of lobster or conch.”

    Does this mean that no one on these islands can ever have in their possession on any day more than the amount of lobster or conch or fish that is allowed to be caught each day??

    If so, this means that if we store these creatures (caught legally over days) in our freezers then we are breaking the NCL regulations?? DOE needs to get more enforcers and raid all of our kitchens as well as all restaurants! I must be missing something here….. Otherwise our legislators really need to bring some common sense into the NCL Regulations!!

    • Anonymous says:

      It is against the law to fill your freezer with lobster. There is not enough lobster.for everyone to take a limit every day of the season.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nationalities please! The discriminatory basis for the requirements for licences is illegal and cannot be justified.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Its only illegal if you get caught. Fish on my fellow Caymanians!

  6. Anonymous says:

    EE Poached daily for years.
    Must be legal. No one checks.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What are the identities of the suspect and accomplices arrested with 54 fish?

    Part of our problem is that our officials and policing authorities feel they need to shield the anonymity of poachers while simultaneously asking that the public treat reef-extermination levels of over-fishing and gun sharing as serious offenses. Do they not understand the disconnect in those two messages?

    The DOE and RCIPS are the agencies that keep treating this stuff like slap-on-the-wrist misdemeanors, not us. It not only erodes faith in the mission to combat this selfish behavior, and it probably emboldens those with similar proclivities (of which there are far too many) to get out there with their flashlights and buckets.

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean the innocent-until-proven guilty accused? No names until charges are filed (and then the court record is a public record) is just common law. (Also helps to keep the jury pool unbiased, i.e., uninformed, until the court case. Another requirement of a fair trial.)

  8. Anonymous says:

    There are never any consequences. DOE answer is to make the whole island a marine park so there will be plenty of fish to look at.

    • Anonymous says:

      That still wouldn’t help because people use to respect the Marine Park but the younger generation could care less about Marine Law or Laws in general.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The enforcers of the Law needs to be more strict with individuals who do this. I’m not saying if someone has 11 conch to throw them in jail, but if they have 100 up hold the law don’t just let them go with a “Verbal Warning” that does nothing there will never be any lessons learnt from this. Especially when it comes to out of season and restaurants constantly having conch and lobster on their menu. If they cannot produce a receipt for that shows that they either imported the item or purchased them from a local distributor such as Uncle Clem’s, then the restaurant should receive a fine in order to deter the illegal purchases of out of season and over the limit quantities that way it’s just not the little person that is being held accountable for their actions.

  10. Anonymous says:

    If at a minimum, DOE can’t staff the limited number of boat ramps (even the busiest district launch and recovery spots) twice a day in the mornings and at dusk, during open season, then they should install some proper lights and high-resolution cameras there to get vehicle plates and overhead and fish-cleaning spots covered. Enforcement tactics shouldn’t be this hard to figure out.

  11. Anonymous says:

    So, let me ask this. You go to little Cayman for a long week-end – 3 full days. You decide you are going to get conchs, legally, five a day but want to bring back to Grand Cayman to cook for a number of friends. This is illegal?

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      There is a possession limit. If you can’t eat a two day limit over the weekend, don’t take them. You can’t feed “a number of friends” at home with more than your possession limit. You can claim they are on your friends limits but that’s called poaching. Stop taking more than your personal share.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. You can only POSSES the daily limit in any one day. So if you go out Friday and get 5 conch and marinate 2 and freeze three, then go out again on Saturday you can only legally take another 2 because that brings your total possession up to 5 (3 in freezer, two in boat). Obviously the police can’t tell what you have in your freezer but coming back to Grand on Sunday the CPC can count how many you posses in your ice chest.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you live alone. You can have a possession limit for each person in the house. IE: 4 people = 4 limits

    • Anonymous says:

      Does that make any sense? The law contradicting its self. What a damn joke

  12. Anonymous says:

    fishermen…pillagers of the seas.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The marine law violations need to be treated the same as gun possession. Ten years in prisonment. Soon all we will have for our tourist to see are sea fans and saltwater

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t you see the ocean is all we will have climate change is slowing swallowing our beaches that And planning allowing real estate tycoons to build to the watermark .

      Our ancestors are turning over in their graves at the state these greedy corrupt people have destroyed my h(me

  14. Anonymous says:

    Poachers been plenty busy. Ocean floors littered with hundreds torn lobster heads and cracked conch shells.

    • anonymous says:

      Our local poachers need to be jailed, it’s the only way to stop them.

      • Anonymous says:

        What’s more infuriating, is since the poachers don’t get caught, or get a slap on the wrist, DOE then tightens the already strict rules on those who obey them, who only want a lousy 5 conchs for dinner.

    • Anonymous says:

      Prosecute heavily with stiff sentences. This nonsense has got to stop as we are killing our marine industry rapidly.

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