A man accused of importing 850 pounds of conch without a valid permit was found not guilty on Wednesday after the Crown offered no evidence.
Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez noted that the Crown was required to prove that the conch were of a specific species. With no testing done to determine the species, Crown counsel Greg Walcolm offered no evidence.
The defendant, Carl Harshell Ebanks, had been charged with importing the conch on Oct. 17, 2017. His attorney was Michael Alberga.
After the matter was concluded, Mr. Walcolm explained that the charge was brought under section 20 of the Endangered Species (Trade and Transport) Law, 2017 Revision.
The only conch that is prohibited from being imported is the Queen Conch, scientifically named Strombus gigas.
As Mr. Alberga noted in preliminary arguments, the Queen Conch is recognized by its very large, deep pink shell.
However, as Mr. Walcolm explained, the conch had already been shelled and packaged when Mr. Ebanks brought it to Cayman. Department of Environment officers who dealt with the matter were asked if any samples of the conch meat had been submitted for DNA testing, but none had.
Without evidence of what kind of conch had been imported, there was no way to prove the offense.
Mr. Ebanks and the vessel the conch was on were based in Honduras at the time of the incident that led to the charge.