The Truth about Marine Conservation

When you eat marine sourced food you have little knowledge about its origin.  The myth of sustainable fisheries is that there is a level of harvest that will have no effect.  This is not true.  Even “well” managed fisheries adversely affect the marine environment but add in cheating and the tale can only be one of continued decline.  But what to do?  People do not want to hear that their consumption of wild sea food is leading to the destruction of an ecosystem they may well seek to protect through other routes.  Is it going too far to suggest that eating any wild sea food is hypocrisy for those that profess to be green?

Not guilty verdict for five locals
caught in Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Five residents of San Pedro Town  were found not guilty on Thursday July 11th before   Magistrate Sherigne Rodriguez after they were charged on the suspicion that they were fishing  within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The charges arose from an incident on the 28th of July, 2012  when the Michael Kuhn – boat captain, Roan Gonzalez – licensed tour guide, Guillermo Valdez – licensed  tour guide, Melvin Montesino – fishermen and a 13  year old minor, all of San Pedro Town, were caught sometime around 11PM inside the reserve on a boat named ‘Natural Mystic.’
At the time, The Belize Fisheries Department on behalf of the Government of Belize charged the five for illegally fishing within a marine reserve (which went against the Belize Marine Reserve and Protected Areas Act of the Laws of Belize.) Around the time of the incident, Hol Chan Marine Reserve Ranger had set up a sting operation after receiving information of illegal activities within the reserve. That night, the rangers sighted lights in the reserve and found  the vessel with the five males within the park.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Manager and Biologist Miguel Alamilla explained in court that the five “were suspected of spearing and fishing” in the reserve.  When the vessel was caught, there was no fishery  product with the five men. In court, Richard “Dickie” Bradley, Attorney for Kuhn, argued that the  only evidence brought before the court were testimonies from the Fisheries Department gathered  from the rangers working the night of the arrest at the reserve. He was able to successfully argue that                    there was no evidence to suggest the “suspicion” that the five were “spearing and fishing” as                    indicated. Because there was no other evidence other than the statements from the rangers, Magistrate Rodriguez found the five accused not guilty of charges and the men were allowed to walk free out of court.
In a previous interview with The San Pedro Sun in August of 2012, Alamilla explained that there have been many reports that fishermen have been illegally fishing in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Because of  the reports, Hol Chan Marine Reserve has increased  their vigilance and conducts special operation to discourage the illegal practice.
San Pedro Sun