West End Officers arrested three suspects in breach of the Fisheries Resources Act for the capture of a Loggerhead turtle on Wednesday (March 7).
Clement Campbell, Assistant Fisheries Superintendent, Department of Marine Resources, in an interview with this daily regarding the incident on Thursday, March 8 at his office, said that he received word that a video of a turtle being killed was circulating on social media Tuesday, March 6.
Campbell added that he did some research and made arrangements to find the person in the video.
“From the video I recognized the person, I knew he was in West End … so we went out with a team of Defence Force Officers,” he disclosed.
Campbell said that they found the culprit and took him to the police station, where he revealed who he sold the turtle to in Freeport.
Reports are that on Wednesday, March 7 shortly after 8:00 a.m., police received a complaint of a video circulating on social media with the capture of a Loggerhead turtle, which is an endangered species.
“We left West End and came to Freeport to find the person. We found the turtle back and all the turtle meat,” Campbell said.
As a result, officers of the West End Division arrested three persons in connection with this matter, two males and a female. Officers also retrieved 11 bags of turtle meat and one turtle shell.
Campbell stressed that fishing and capturing of turtles is illegal. The laws were amended in 2009.
“Prior to 2009 you could have caught all turtles except the Hawksbill turtle, the Loggerhead and the Green turtle was legal until 2009,” he added.
Campbell noted that Bahamians are still eating turtle meat, but it can be difficult to catch those people and if it was not for the graphic video, these persons may have gotten away with this breach.
“The catching of turtles is illegal and exposing the turtle and beheading the turtle in a public demeanor is totally unacceptable,” he stated.
Campbell said that he knows he cannot stop the illegal fishing of turtles completely, but he wants to do his best to decrease and restrict it.
He added that there are food vendors selling turtle meat and warned that there could be severe consequences if they are caught.
“If you’re selling turtle for lunch and I catch you with the turtle, there will be no more lunch from that turtle,” he said.
Campbell also took the opportunity to advise the public that lobster season ends on March 31, 2018. It began August 1, 2017.
He noted that government should stop restaurants from selling lobster all year-around, when there is an off season because many fish houses, fish for lobster illegally during the closed season to replenish their stock.
Campbell stated that the Fisheries Department check fish houses’ stocks once a month and revealed that there will be three boats to patrol the waters for illegal fishing in the summer.
“In the summer is going to be busy,” he said.
All suspects will be arraigned before the Magistrate Court in Eight Mile Rock this week.
Police are sending a strong warning to the community at large, anyone that is in breach of the Fisheries Act will be arrested and taken before the Magistrate Court.