The captain and crew of one of three Dominican fishing boats intercepted by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force last week pleaded guilty to fishing violations yesterday.
Captain Rafael Beltre and his 48 crew members finally appeared before a magistrate after 5 p.m., as police had difficulty in determining which of 125 total suspects were to be charged together.
They face five counts: fishing in the exclusive fisheries zone, possession of undersized grouper, possession of undersized crawfish and two counts of possession of prohibited apparatus.
They admitted having 7,722 pounds of undersized crawfish and 144 Nassau Grouper that weighed less than three pounds.
They also admitted having prohibited fishing apparatus, namely 14 compressor tanks and eight spear guns.
The crew of The HMBS Madeira was on patrol in the Southeastern Bahamas on October 13 when they spotted three vessels 3.87 nautical miles southeast of Cay Lobos.
The marines alerted the Cuban coast guard after the vessel, B/P Paul, fled towards Cuba, the court heard. The Cuban coast guard intercepted the boat and turned them over to the marines, the court heard.
The remaining poachers return to court today to face similar charges.