Today’s Editorial January 24: Stiffer fines marine violations

The good news is that three men have received the largest fines to date for violating marine laws.

The bad news is that the fines still aren’t large enough.

There were 30 charges launched against the three. They were caught in September taking 100 conch and 11 lobsters from the Frank Sound Replenishment Zone.

They were facing maximum penalties of $500,000 and/or one year in jail upon conviction in addition to forfeiture of their vessel.

What they each got was a fine of $1,950 and a severe tongue lashing from the magistrate.

We are not privy to why the fine was levied at $1,950 and we are sure the magistrate had good reason to make the order and applaud it.

What we would like to see is stiffer fines and penalties for those caught violating marine laws.

Two of those fined were Caymanians. To them we say shame on you.

Anyone older than 40 can remember the days when sound floors were teeming with conch, big fish, turtle, whelk and lobster.

Those days are gone because of over fishing.

Through the creation of maritime parks and laws that limit the amount of conch and lobster, which may be taken, the Cayman Islands has taken steps to conserve its remaining marine life.

The three men were caught and subsequently prosecuted because of the law abiding citizens who turned them in.

It is up to each and every one of us to ensure our depleted reserves of marine life are brought back to the days of old.

To that end, if we see criminals continuing to damage the ocean’s fragile ecosystem, it is up to us to turn them in to the Department of Environment’s Marine Enforcement Officers.

There are five more such cases pending in court. It is our hope that enough evidence will be presented in those cases to make life difficult for those who are convicted by levying stiff fines, taking away their vessels and letting them have some time to reflect on their actions behind bars in prison.

It is evident that Caymanians are tired of the criminal activities of those who think they are entitled to more than their fair share of conch and lobsters.

We must all remain vigilant and help in the arrest and prosecution of all those involved.

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