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By Latrishka Thomas

Three men who were recently caught fishing on Bird Island by Coast Guard officers, were in violation of a number of fishing protocols.

According to Tricia Lovell, the deputy chief fisheries officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, the men were spearfishing in a protected area – possibly without a licence – and caught parrotfish during the current closed season.

All of these are violations which may attract charges, but attempts to confirm whether or not charges have already been laid have proved futile.

Meanwhile, Lovell urged residents to respect the closed season as well as marine laws.

“The regulations and the conservation measures that we put in place is for the benefit of everyone and for the benefit of everyone and for the long-term sustainability of a sector. It can’t be about individual gratification,” she stated.

She further encouraged the public to make use alternative means of fishing that are within the law.

“I recognise that people are saying that it’s a tough time. We have Covid and people might be without a job, but that doesn’t mean that you have to break the law because there are other options available to you.

“You don’t have to spear in protected areas … if you are hell bent on being a spearfisherman, then come into fisheries and regularise yourself by getting a license,” Lovell added.

The Fisheries Officer explained that protected areas are put in place as basically refuge areas saying “if you are fishing in these areas you are not allowing the area to do what they have been designed to do which is become a refuge for any marine species.”

She noted that the parrotfish is a critically important species for reef building and like other species, their closed seasons “generally coincide with peaks and spawning”.

“If you are going to be violating closed season you are basically going to be harvesting species that would be spawning at that time and spawning is basically making sure that the population is able to replenish itself,” Lovell reiterated.

 The closed season for parrotfish is May 1 to July 31, and May 1 to June 30 for lobster.

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