By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A Bahamian fishing boat captain was fined $10,000 for using illegal fishing apparatus to catch over $20,000 worth of fisheries in the Cay Sal Bank area.
Senior Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans fined 26-year-old Jeffrey Jolly for admitting to using an air compressor to field a catch of some $22,000 worth of Bahamian fisheries on June 30.
Jolly was ordered to pay $5,000 of that sum on Friday, and the other $5,000 by September 30. Failure to do so would result in one year in prison, the senior magistrate said.
Jolly's sentence came after he plead guilty to two counts of possession of a prohibited apparatus. Given his guilty plea, the prosecutor, Sergeant Kendrick Bauld, withdrew the two charges against Jolly's 33 crew members.
The charges are contrary to section 69 (a)(b)(c) and (d), and section 73 of the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Regulations, 1987.
According to the regulations, a prohibited apparatus is any device, other than a snorkel, that enables a person to breathe whilst underwater.
The former charge asserted that on the date in question, Jolly had one air compressor in his possession with intent to use it for fishing. The latter charge further specifies that he was found in the Cay Sal bank with an air compressor without a permit authorizing its use contrary to the authorized dates of August 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020.
According to reports from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), HMBS Rolly Gray, under the command of Senior Lieutenant William Sturrup, was on routine patrol when it apprehended Sweet Dreams in the Cay Sal Bank area. A large quantity of conch and a compressor were on board at the time.
Skiffs belonging to the vessel were also in the immediate area with compressors on board, according to the RBDF. Additionally, a search of a nearby cay resulted in the discovery of several more compressors.
The vessel and its crew were subsequently arrested and taken to New Providence, where they were turned over to the relevant authorities.
During the sentencing proceedings, Jolly's attorney Joseph D'Arceuil submitted that with Jolly's guilty plea, the court and its resources has been spared the weeks it would have taken to try Jolly and his crew on the allegations.
Mr D'Arceuil also submitted that as captain, Jolly would have to travel to the United States or elsewhere to purchase navigational aids, equipment for maintenance and repair, and other items. Him not doing so could "severely hamper" the ship's upkeep, Mr D'Arceuil said.
Thus, Mr D'Arceuil asked for the court to be as lenient as possible and handing down a sentence, as he further submitted that sufficient punishment would be rendered through a confiscation of the fishery products.
However, Magistrate Vogt-Evans scolded Jolly for his actions, stating that he should have considered the success of his business and its dependance on him traveling before using the air compressors.
She also said that Jolly should focus on maintaining his occupation as a professional fisherman as opposed to trying to make a few extra bucks.
"If we have no marine resources you will have nowhere to fish," she said. "Your children will have nowhere to fish. The Bahamas will be like some other third world country. We live here and we love here because of the opportunities, and one of them is the vast and productive marine life. Those of us who are able to make it a business must have a respect for our seas and our laws.
She added: "Couple dollars here today, couple dollars tomorrow does not help you. What you should be looking for is longevity. If you intend to be a professional fisherman, you want to do that until you retire. If your children want to do that, there must be something left."