Sun | Dec 15, 2019

Hondurans held for illegal fishing in Jamaican waters

Published:Wednesday | October 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM
A Jamaica Defence Force soldier guards some of the 48 men, claiming to be Hondurans, who were caught in Jamaican waters catching lobster and conch illegally by the crew of the Her Majesty's Jamaican Ship Cornwall. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Forty-eight males, all claiming Honduran nationality, have been caught fishing without permission in Jamaican waters.

The men were detained by the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard between Sunday afternoon and midday Monday after they were caught along the northwest ridge of the Pedro Banks, due south of Negril Point. When The Gleaner team arrived at the Coast Guard base in Port Royal yesterday, the men, most of them barefoot and some shirtless, were lazing by the dock.

They chatted softly among themselves, giving no indication they were in trouble with the law. Lieutenant Aceion Prescott, executive officer of the Her Majesty's Jamaican Ship Cornwall, the vessel that picked them up, said one detainee spoke fluent English and was serving as interpreter, while others knew some English. It was from this interaction that officials ascertained that they are from Honduras.

Coast Guard officials say seven of the detainees are minors ranging from 14 to 17. The men were caught with 20 pounds of lobster, 11 pounds of fish and four pounds of crab. There was no sign of narcotics.

According to Prescott, the first group of men were apprehended on Sunday around 4 p.m. after two vessels were spotted. Both ships sped off leaving 14 men in the water. They were picked up before the Cornwall chased the larger vessels.

Prescott said the Cornwall returned to the initial pick-up area and dropped anchor, waiting to see if the vessels would return or if more fishermen would surface. The latter took place and by the time the vessel began heading back to land around midday Monday, 34 more fishermen had been apprehended.