Marine enforcement continues amid COVID crisis

DoE Conservation Officers confiscated 74 fish, 3 lobster and 2 spear guns and snorkel gear from two men caught spear fishing without a license. Enforcement continues amid the COVID-19 crisis.
On March 1, DoE Conservation Officers confiscated 74 fish, 3 lobster and 2 spear guns and snorkel gear from two men caught spear fishing without a license. Enforcement continues amid the COVID-19 crisis.

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The Department of Environment has warned against overfishing amid the escalating financial consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

The marine laws and catch limits will still be enforced, the DoE warned last week.

Premier Alden McLaughlin subsequently put a ban on all watersports, including fishing, though he said this was to protect and channel police resources, rather than to restrict anglers.

The DoE remains concerned over the longer term that catch limits, seasonal bans on lobster diving and restrictions on catching conch continue to be respected.

“We will definitely be keeping a close eye on the situation,” DoE Deputy Director Tim Austin said. “We know people will view the sea as a resource and that might be something people turn to a little more when money is scarce.”

He said people would still be able to fish – contingent on other COVID-19 suppression measures being lifted – but there would be no relaxation of catch limits.

“We cannot do that unless the government mandates it and we are certainly not at that point yet,” Austin said.

DoE officers continue their regular land and sea patrols under an exemption from the ‘shelter in place’ regulations.

“The health and sustainability of the natural resources of the Cayman Islands need to be safeguarded for the benefit of all,” the department said in a statement.

To report poaching or other marine offences call a conservation officer:

Grand Cayman: 916-4271 or 916 5849

Cayman Brac: 926-0136

Little Cayman: 925-0185

Or Call 911

Full coverage: Coronavirus

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