Press Release:- On Thursday, December 16, 2021, the Soufriere Marine Management Association Inc. (SMMA Inc.) was alerted of a fishing net set in a declared marine reserve within the Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA).
The net was set on the coral reefs around and adjacent to Gros Piton in Soufriere. Pursuant to Section 22 (1) of the Fisheries Act of the revised laws of Saint Luca, marine reserves are declared to afford special protection to marine fauna and flora in an area allowing for regeneration of aquatic life.
The SMMA Inc., as the local fisheries management authority for the SMMA, quickly responded to the incident. The SMMA Inc. rangers supported by the Police Marine Unit of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force responded swiftly to successfully remove the net and minimize damage to the coral reefs.
Nevertheless, four (4) sea turtles found caught in the net, two (2) of which were found dead. The two surviving sea turtles were released into the wild. However, one (1) of the two (2) surviving sea turtles were observed to be in critical condition and it is believed that it is unlikely that it would have survived.
Further, on Friday, December 17, 2021, during a routine patrol of the same Marine Reserve, a fish pot was observed with a catch of reef associated fishes. The fish pot was immediately removed.
Fishers and the general public are advised that pursuant to Section 22 (2) and (3) of the Fisheries Act, it is prohibited to fish or attempt to fish in a marine reserve without written permission from the Minister responsible for fisheries.
Anyone committing this offence is liable to a summary conviction of a fine up to $5000.00. The Fisheries Act outlines the conservation measures for the fishing industry.
These measures are necessary to conserve marine life and enhance sustainable fisheries. Contravention of the law puts fisher’s livelihoods and our biodiversity at risk.
For further information or to confidentially report an incident within the SMMA, contact the Soufriere Marine Management Association Inc. at telephone number 459 – 5500.