Three men fined for marine offences
Three men learned the legal definition of spear gun after they had pleaded not guilty to marine offences and were ready to go to trial in Summary Court in Grand Cayman on Monday.
Rohan Faud, 29, did most of the talking for himself and co-accused Glenroy Faud, 58, and Romel Faud, 22. He accepted that the three of them were in a boat in the Frank Sound area on 11 December, 2011, and they had a hook stick. “It’s not a spear gun because you can’t shoot with it,” he asserted, as he held out his hand and moved his forefinger as if pulling a trigger. Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn replied, “Ah, that’s where we go to the legislation.” She referred to the Marine Conservation Law, which defines the term.
The men considered the explanations and changed their plea.
They maintained other not guilty pleas, however, and after Crown Counsel Nicole Petit read aloud from the summary of facts she offered no evidence on two charges.
The men had pleaded guilty with explanation to the taking of conch above the daily limit. Rohan told the court that they had been charged with taking 23 conch when in fact they had only 22. He said they thought they could take five conch per person, but the officers who arrested them said the limit was 10 per boat.
All charges arose from the same incident as Ms Petit summarised it. She said officers were on land when they observed a vessel that appeared to be in a replenishment zone. They observed the boat move from the replenishment zone east of the Frank Sound launching ramp and head west toward the reef.
Individuals on board continued to dive off the vessel, return to it and repeat the activity in the vicinity of the Frank Sound Channel.
Subsequently, the vessel headed west and arrived at the Lighthouse Club area, where it ran aground, causing the stern to be ripped off, as well as the engine.
Officers met the vessel and checked the men for injuries, but no one appeared to have received any injury.
The vessel was also checked and found to contain 23 conch and three lobster. The men were asked how they caught the lobster and they said, with a hook stick. Asked to show the hook stick, they handed over a metal rod with a hook attached at one end of the rod.
The men were informed that they were being charged for possession of an unlicensed spear gun, taking conch over the prescribed limit, taking marine life with a spear gun and taking marine life from a replenishment zone.
Still reading from the summary, Ms Petit said the Fauds told the officers they were not aware that their actions were offences. They asked for a break, but the officers informed them that they should make efforts to preserve the Islands’ heritage and not break conservation laws. The lobster and conch were returned to their natural habitat and the hook stick was seized.
After the men changed their plea to the unlicensed spear gun charge, Ms Petit double-checked the officers’ statements and found that the first observation of the men diving for marine life was after the boat had moved west of the launching ramp. She therefor offered no evidence on the charge of taking marine life from a replenishment zone.
The magistrate fined the men a total of $450 each: $200 for the unlicensed spear gun; $100 for taking marine life with an unlicensed spear gun; and $150 for taking the excess amount of conch.
In the definition section of the Marine Conservation Law, 2007 Revision, “spear gun” includes a mechanical or pneumatic spear gun, a Hawaiian sling, a pole spear, a stick spear, harpoon, rod or any device with a pointed end which may be used to impale, stab or pierce any marine life but does not include a striker; “striker” means a long wooden pole, no shorter than 10 feet in length, with no more than two barb-less prongs attached to one end.