Chief Magistrate asks if it discriminates
The case of four people accused of
fishing without a licence has prompted a request for a review by the Crown of
the charges against them under the Marine Conservation Law.
The four–Stephen Andrew Copeland,
55; Andrea Morgan, 30; Doreen Smith, 49; and Robert Simpson, 40 — have been
told to return to Summary Court on 7 September so that the Crown can review the
charges against them.
They are charged with taking marine
life without a licence and having in their possession fish less than eight
inches in length taken from Cayman waters. The alleged offences occurred on 10
Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale
called for a copy of the Marine Conservation Law, under which the four were
charged. After reading the section on “licence to fish”, which was added to the
law in 2007, she asked Crown Counsel Kenneth Ferguson to take her concern back
to the Legal Department. She said she had no settled view on the matter.
Her concern was whether a law that
is applicable to one section of the population is discriminatory and in
potential breach of Cayman’s new Constitution, which came into effect last year
and includes a Bill of Rights that will come into effect in 2012.
In general, the law requires
non-Caymanians fishing from shore to have a licence. Interestingly, the
magistrate noted, sport fishing from a boat does not require a licence.
(Catch-and-release fishing does not require a licence, either.)
She wondered whether the law
concerning the size of fish was not sufficient to protect marine species from
Mr. Ferguson indicated he would
follow up on the magistrate’s request. No further details of the charges were
related in court.
The section under which the
defendants were charged says: Whoever resides in the Islands and who does not
possess Caymanian status or who has a permit to work in the Islands and who,
while he is on shore or while he is in any part of Cayman waters in which he
can stand (with or without assistance), takes or attempts to take by any means
any marine life, is guilty of an offence unless licensed by the Marine
The licence fee set out in the law
is $400 annually or $150 monthly.