The Department of Environment is reminding fishermen and restaurateurs to not catch or buy seafood out of season.
New fisheries regulations put in place this August make both illegal take and possession of illegally taken marine life an offence, closing a loophole that had previously frustrated conservation efforts. DOE conservation officer Ronnie Dougall told Cayman 27 these laws are in place to protect vulnerable marine life for the future.
“We would much rather educate someone and get them on our side than bust them and prosecute them, but if it comes to the point where we are very sure that they knew the law, we will prosecute them to the full extent of the law, and if under the law we can seize [equipment involved in an illegal take incident], we will seize it,” said Mr. Dougall.
On December 1st, new no-take regulations come into effect regarding Nassau grouper. Taking one anywhere in Cayman waters is prohibited from December through April, to protect highly vulnerable spawning aggregations.
To report illegal take of marine life, or to report a restaurant that you suspect is serving marine life out of season, you can call DOE conservation officers Ronnie Dougall at 916-5849, Chief conservation officer Mark Orr at 916-4271, or 911.