Poachers fined over illegal fishing
Five Puerto Rican men caught fishing in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park last week paid collective fines of $12,500 on Monday to avoid spending three months in prison.
Rene Morales, 38; Enrique Ortiz; 40; Agustin Rexach Jr., 68; Feliz Fernandez, and Richard Cintron, 48, admitted to unlawfully fishing in the protected area on July 6 at their arraignment before Assistant Chief Magistrate Subusola Swain.
ASP Clifford Daxon said park warden Brent Burrows was on patrol when he became suspicious of a stationary boat in the park.
After calling for assistance, Burrows approached the yacht and informed them of the violations. The men caught 17 red snappers and one goggle eye fish, which were seized, Daxon said.
Attorney Jomo Campbell said the men’s actions should not be considered poaching, as they had made an honest mistake.
He said, “They were here positively contributing to the Bahamian economy and did not intend to fall afoul of the law.”
Campbell said that the men were willing to make a contribution to the furtherance of the Bahamas National Trust’s objectives.
Swain said that she had no power to order anyone to make a charitable donation, but Campbell insisted this was his clients’ desire.
Swain fined the men $2,500 each or three months in prison and ordered the fish confiscated.