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Two illegal fishermen from the Dominican Republic were jailed for six months each on Tuesday (July 8) after they were caught poaching in TCI waters.
Captain Francisco Hernandez, 48, and engineer Jose Ulba Medina, 34, of the 50ft boat 'Robin Hood' both pled guilty to eight offences in Grand Turk Magistrates Court.
Meanwhile charges were dismissed against nine other men from the Dominican Republic who were also arrested last week.
The 11 men were captured by marine police just outside Grand Turk last Friday (July 4) after they spotted the boat and fishermen on board.
Ida Gardiner, senior conservation officer for the Department of the Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA), told media that additional vessels had been sighted.
"When we arrived in the area we met up with patrol vessels from Grand Turk and we intercepted the vessels inside the Turks and Caicos Islands waters," he said.
"Eleven persons were on board. They had at least seven dingy small boats that they were out fishing in but they got away."
He explained that once officers had boarded Robin Hood they found a large illegal catch inside including parrot fish, crawfish and conch.
They also found spear guns and scuba equipment - which are illegal to use while fishing in the TCI.
"We informed them that it was an offence, we informed them that the vessel would have to be seized, we cautioned them and we proceeded to Grand Turk which was the closest port of entry," Gardiner said.
Hernandez and Medina were slapped with eight charges including use of scuba equipment or any artificial breathing devices other than a snorkel when taking marine products, possession of a spear gun within the fishing limit of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and possession of marine products bearing a mark or wound consistent with the same having been taken by the use of spear gun.
They were also charged with possession of marine product namely parrot fish, possession of marine product namely crawfish during closed season, use of unlicensed vessel for commercial fishing, possession of processed marine product namely crawfish tails, possession of marine product including fish, conch and crawfish tails without possession of a licence.
Following their guilty plea the men were remanded in custody to begin their six month sentence in Her Majesty's Prison in Grand Turk.
Gardiner stressed the need for better equipment for the DEMA to allow officers to continue to control illegal fishing.
"We need larger vessels so that we can patrol our banks more often. The vessel that we have - the poacher vessels are sometimes bigger than our vessel.
"If we get a larger vessel then we can patrol our banks...it will probably help to cut down on poaching. Also we need manpower."