Police arrested a North Side man for allegedly poaching conch and lobster in a Department of Environment enforcement exercise in Rum Point Friday.
After receiving several reports from concerned residents in the Rum Point area, DoE Conservation Officer Carl Edwards spearheaded an operation that led to the arrest of the 30-year-old man who was found in possession of 23 conch and three lobster.
He is suspected of taking the conch and lobster from the marine park replenishment zone off Rum Point while snorkelling from shore. Under the Marine Conservation Law, it is illegal to remove conch and lobster from replenishment zones.
The lobsters were alive and released back into the sea, but the conchs had been removed from their shells.
Mr. Edwards said that while some may consider the poaching of conch and lobster a “trivial matter”, the large numbers of the animals that are being removed from the replenishment zones are causing major harm to the stocks of conch and lobster.
“It’s getting to be a major problem. We’re seeing people take 250 or 450 conch. They’re taking them in huge numbers,” he said.
While the Marine Conservation Law prohibits the taking of conch and lobster from replenishment zones, there is also a legal limit of five conch per person per day or 10 conch per boat per day, and up to three lobster per person or six lobster per boat per day, during open season, which is November to end of April for conch and 1 December to the end of February for lobster.*
Mr. Edwards said residents in the Rum Point area had made repeated complaints about the suspect trying to sell them conch and lobster.
Violation of the Marine Conservation Law carries a maximum penalty of $500,000 fine and one year in jail upon conviction.