275 poached conch recovered by DoE

| 29/07/2013

(CNS): Over the last month four poachers have been arrested in connection with two separate incidents, one involving 156 conch and one 119 conch illegally taken from a protected zone, and the Department of Environment (DoE) is warning that anyone who takes conch from Cayman’s waters or purchases conch taken from Cayman waters between the beginning of May and the end of October is doing so illegally. Reminding restaurants that it is illegal to purchase local conch in the off-season, the DoE said that poaching and illegal sales threaten the conch population.

Two poachers were arrested in each of the two incidents, and both incidents are still under investigation, according to DoE Chief Enforcement Officer Mark Orr.

In a release Monday, the department said that it takes poaching and buying poached conch seriously, and anyone caught with poached conch is liable to face serious charges under the law.

During open season, which runs from 1 November to 30 April, the daily limit is five. These restrictions are in place because the Cayman Islands conch population, while sufficient for limited personal consumption within the law, cannot support a commercial fishery.

‘We understand that many people are without work due to the downturn in the economy, but that is not an excuse to destroy the balance of our natural environment by stealing,” said Orr. ‘We must be vigilant because at this rate, our children and grand-children will not have the luxury of diving for conch, or enjoying a delicious conch meal in open season, because there simply won’t be enough left.”

Referring to the poaching incidents, he said, “In both cases they had other illegally taken marine life as well and in one case the offenders kept some of the more attractive conch shells, perhaps for sale to tourists,” said Orr. “Everyone has an obligation to obey the law and I hope that individuals and local businesses will assist us in reporting this kind of illegal activity.”

Illegal catches that are seized and confiscated by the DoE are donated to the Pines or the Pink Ladies who provide receipts that are later presented to the courts as evidence of the proper disposal of the perishable seafood.

The Department encourages the public to report any suspicious activity by calling 911, Mark Orr on 916-4271, or the DoE on 949-8469.

Copies of the Marine Conservation rules are available online here, from the DoE or in the ‘Government Blue Pages’ of the telephone directory.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Science and Nature

About the Author ()

Comments (52)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    All of these "donations" to the Pines and Pink Ladies of conch and lobster that were caught illegally need to stop.

    First of all, their patients/clients are elderly people who either 1) cannot chew conch because of their dentures, or 2) cannot eat conch or lobster because of the high cholesterol levels, etc.

    I would say donate the illegal stuff to public schools  who can then sell it to students at reduced rates or use it for other fundraisers and fish-fry events.

    We've seen recently what kind of behavior goes on at the Pines also, XXXX so  do not support donating to the Pines until they come clean and let the Police know everything that happened in that situation. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great news – Now if they can only target those late-night lobster rustlers out there!


    • Anonymass says:

      Call it in. Tell them who/when/where (at least the last two you obviosuly know). Then you'll know.

  3. Slowpoke says:

    The problem here is that more punishment, i.e. prison/fines, will not do the trick.  If someone thinks that they will not be caught, what difference does it make what the theoretical punishment is?

    Knowing that effective enforcement and therefore, the likelyhood of getting caught is very high, will be much more effective.

    Unfortunately, this flies in the face of the "bloated CS", "less regulations", "free market", etc. enthusiasts.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Turtles soon to be next, once the farming is made illegal by the international vegan freak shows

    • Anonymous says:

      Turtles are already taken by thieves, as you well know.

      It's not the farming of turtle that causes concern, its the manner in which you do it.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, the eating of turtle should be a concern to every right-minded person in the 21st century.

        • Anonymous says:

          Why? (And remember to differentiate between poached turtle meat and (hypothetically) sustainably supplied turtle meat. And how the later is different from a kangaroo burger.)

      • Anonymass says:

        Actually, if you read the WSPA news stories, especially the early ones before they appreciated the depth of opposition, you will see that they are quite clear in their stated goal to shut the Farm down. Not because of animal husbandry issues, but because they don't believe in turtle farming. Its only subsequently that they have been workign on making themselves more appealing to locals by saying things we agree with. Like 'better animal husbandry is needed at the Farm'.  – To quote from one of their press releases, however, "WSPA won’t stop until sea turtle farming stops". There is no room for negotiation.

    • Anonymous says:

      We can but hope.

  5. Anonymous says:

    $1000 fine for every conch and 6 months in jail upto 5 years. Cant pay the fine ? …then the Crown will sell your belongings. Easy.

    • Anonymous says:

      OK Guys, this is no good and we have to think of an alternate way to deal.

      I say we train and arm the conch so they have at least a fighting chance. But first we have to make sure there are no gay or Godless conch bearing arms, we could not have that here in Cayman.

      • SSM345 says:

        14:07, I like your idea. After proper training we could then implement a "Stand Your Ground" style approach for the Conch to adopt when they feel threatened.

  6. Anonymous says:

    AND STILL THERE IS NO N.C.L. !!!!!!!!!!!!! Why is this law taking so long???????????

    • Anonymous says:

      How exactly will a NCL help this?  What they are already doing is against the law with STIFF fines.

      • Anonymous says:

        Read it and find out. For a start it gives enforcement officers more powers to deal with offenders.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If it is illegal to take conch from May through October, how is there conch fritters being offered on menus & sold in many restaurants, in off season? 

    • Anonymous says:

      ….and the shells as well!

    • SSM345 says:

      Conch is not only found in Cayman, it can be brought in from the likes of Honduras and other places.

      I am not saying that these restaurants buy conch out of season, but the DOE needs to be more vigilant because the "smaller places" with Stew Conch on their menu's certainly do not get their conch from overseas.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong!!!!  If you want conch for your house all you have to do is go to Progressives. They sell imported conch there year round!!!! Get your facts before you go writing BS!

        • Anonymous says:

          Calm down dear!!

        • Anonymous says:

          Haha, you got their number!!! hahahahahaha

        • SSM345 says:

          12:53, I do have facts, that is why i wrote what I did, and I have reported such "smaller places" to the DOE before when I have witnessed them purshasing conch out of season, from known poachers.

          Perhaps I should have said something along the lines that "not all but some of the smaller restaurants"? I think I also stated, factually that conch was brought in from overseas? Where the f**k do you think Progressive gets theirs you spanner? And thrirdly, get your fatcs straight. Not everyone buys their conch from Progressive, refer to my first first paragraph in this post.

    • Anonymous says:

      The same way you can buy conch in the supermarket in the off-season. Conch is imported from other countries that have larger supplies and commercial-level conch fishing or which farm conch. It is often frozen when it is imported and Honduras and Jamaica are probably our biggest suppliers. We may even be in a multi-country export where we ship it in from the US, which has imported it from other countries.

      • Anonymous says:

        AND from the same li'l local poachers .. be honest now … you Mama taught you to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Memba?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why is this so difficult?

    Is there not one lawmaker with the balls to increase the fines/penalties? Mandatory jail for repeat offenders/being caught with x number of conch/lobster over the limit.

    For the criminals that are caught, why are the penalties listed in the paper (if ever listed) so small? Does deterring people from damaging the one resource this place has rate so low?

    Jail time for resisting DOE officers. Lawmakers, are you awake?


    • Anonymous says:

      There is no need to increase the penalties. Up to $500K not enough for you?

      • SSM345 says:

        Try getting a crackhead poacher to pay a 500k fine. I won't hold my breath.

      • Anonymous says:

        Have you ever seen what they get fined? $500, $1000. Ever seen anyone get a high fine? No?Me neither. Saw one older Caymanian man get 3 or 4  months in Northward about a year ago maybe. He was happy because he didnt have a job, he got 3 meals a day and didnt have to pay rent or light bill. And to top it off he didnt have to pay a fine. Why? Because he doent have a job. That's why they all do it because the justice system is a JOKE in our islands.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We need the level of enforcement to reflect the high value of our marine environment. The last government seemed not to care, obstructing the much needed  amendments to the Marine Conservation Law, and appearing to support the fisherman in the Brac who want to reopen the last Grouper Spawing Hole.. These fishermen have already presided over the near-extinction of the Nassau Grouper, showing themselves to be incapable of policing themselves and so forcing the Government's hand.

    The UDP appointed ten rangers to look after the Barkers "park" , whereas ten marine enforcers would have significantly limited damage to our fragile reefs.

    I believe the new Government will show a very different and more responsible approach, and when they can address these matters we'll see some important and  positive changes.

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree, we need enforcement and we need it now!!

      I see only a couple of officers who patrol and deter these theives, they go out in all weathers and at all times of the day and night. Their job must hold some danger from criminals who think more of making money from stolen conch, turtle or lobsters, but they bravely confront these people on a daily basis to ensure the law is upheld. Would you confront an unpredictable foe at night when he maybe carrying a machete, knife or speargun? No neither would I, so support please these courageous guys with real laws and appropriate sentencing.

      Road side stalls and restaurants should be forbidden from selling out of season sea food unless they can produce a convincing proof of purchase from a recognised supplier. It should be made illegal to be in possession of any marine life, alive or dead, unless you can provide the documentation to prove that it is imported or obtained by lawful means. In addition, no local marine life should be sold during the closed season, this will stop those trying to evade the law by claiming that it was caught in season and stored. And all of this needs to be spot checked by enforcement teams who can enter suspected premises and demand documentation on the spot, arrest law breakers and possibly close or fine businesses through the courts.

      We also need to ban repeat offenders from entering marine park waters or handling any form of marine life out of season. Offenders should be immediately arrested if found to be breaching a banning order and their names and pictures published on an online wall of shame.     

      We cannot afford to sit and watch this wholesale plunder of our marine resourses, our future as a premium tourist destination relies on pristine reefs and plentiful marine life. Of course we should be able to harvest from the sea, but we need to do it responsibly and leave the stocks to recover in the closed season.

      Come on CIG, lets have more enforcement staff, bring on the MCL and stop delaying for vested interests, act for us all and not just the developers, land owners and commercial boat owners. 

  10. Anonymous says:

    I sure hope DOE had those conchs eaten rather than go to waste.

  11. deep diver says:

    And these were the ones that got CAUGHT. Now, imagine all those who do not. Sad picture isn"t it?

  12. Rock Iguana says:

    Can't help these people.

    Take, take, take until there is nothing left.

    Then call Social Services and their nearest politician.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This makes me sick to my stomach.  What scumbags.

  14. The Thinker says:

    "anyone caught with poached conch is liable to face serious charges under the law."

    Yes, there are serious consequences for vIiolating the marine laws, but I don't recall seeing where very many are meted out.  I think confiscation of boat and maybe some prison time would be a deterrant…. unless, of course it was a friend or relative or perhaps someone with "connections".  XXXX

  15. Anonymous says:

    A $500 fine & they’ll be out pirating the sea by 12pm, hopeless system that needs overhauling!

  16. Caymanian Voter says:

    Severe punishment must be enforced!!

    we may have to ban conch in restaurants to stem the flow or only allow restaurants to sell conch in season. It is so sad to see this crime continue

  17. Anonymous says:

    And where does all this conch go?  And don't tell me the Pines cause all them poor people get at the pines is ENSURE!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Each of these selfish scumbags should do time in jail.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This theft has nothing to do with people being out of work, most of these thieves are either unemployable or owners of commercial boats. This isn't a case of feeding the poor, it is blatant profiteering by thieves and junkies who care little for our marine environment and more about lining their own pockets or getting their next fix.

    Employ effective enforcement officers and sling this garbage in jail where they belong.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Good job, DOE. 

    • Anonymous says:

      An excellent job by the DoE Enforcement Team. It's a national disgrace that their are so few of them who are committed enough to confront these theives and bring them to justice. We need more dedicated officers who don't shy away from protecting our marine life and who put personal affiliations aside to uphold the law.

      We also need implimentation of the new Marine Law and not just the bits that suit certain commercial concerns. The officers who diligently do their duty should have the tools and the protection to do the job properly, not with one hand tied behind their backs as is the case now.

      I know that wehave an over staffing issue in the Civil Service but we need these DoE Enforcement officers more than we need a pen pushing bureaucrat who's only aim in life is to retire and get a fat pension.

  21. Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      I fail to see how the act of a few individuals warrants you branding this as "Caymankind". Unless your ignorance prevents you from providing a balanced view and opinion. 

  22. Anonymous says:

    So where did this occur?

  23. Anonymous says:

    And don't forget poached turtle meat!!!!!