Today’s Editorial October 31: Stealing conch is disgraceful

The start of conch season is less than a day away, but someone apparently saw fit to ignore the Marine Conservation Law and gather conch early.

A man was found on Friday to have 94 conchs in his possession. When conch is in season you aren’t allowed more than five a day.

To make matters worse, he was said to be taking the conch from a designated replenishment zone.

That is just wrong.

When any protected sea life is taken from our waters, those doing the poaching aren’t just breaking the law; they are stealing from each and every one of us and future generations of Caymanians.

Cayman has had almost 30 years to learn and get comfortable with the law that protects our sea and marine life.

We’re sure that those who are taking illegal catches are aware of the law, but just don’t care about this country and her people.

It is because of people who illegally catch and take protected marine life that turtles, lobsters, whelks and conchs and the like have to be protected.

Many of us can remember the days when the sea was teeming with conch, big fish, turtle, whelk and lobster.

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.

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.

It’s pretty obvious that a catch of 94 conchs wasn’t going to go entirely to one household.

There are restaurants and food vendors on Grand Cayman who will buy illegal catches of conch.

Like the poachers, they too are robbing the Cayman Islands.

And just as we have a responsibility for reporting the poachers, we should tell Department of Environment Marine Enforcement officers if we know of offending restaurants and vendors.

We already have to wax nostalgically about bygone days. We shouldn’t let poachers leave us with only memories of conch and lobster.

If the person nabbed allegedly taking the conch Friday is charged and prosecuted, we hope he gets the maximum fine and jail time.

There have been sentences for other criminal offences in which the defendant was given a harsher sentence than others to make an example of the bad behaviour.

That’s what is needed in this case.