Stiffer fines for illegal hunting from January 1

Thursday, December 27, 2018 - 13:30

The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture said there will be stiffer penal­ties for il­le­gal hunt­ing next year now that Pres­i­dent Paula-Mae Weekes has as­sent­ed to the Fi­nance Act 2018, which in­creas­es fines for in­frac­tions un­der the Con­ser­va­tion of Wildlife Act.

From Jan­u­ary 1, poach­ers will face fines as much as 50 times high­er than cur­rent­ly ex­ists. The min­is­ter al­so has the pow­er to in­crease the lim­it of pre­scribed fines.

In a state­ment, the min­istry said while there are tougher fines for en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly sen­si­tive species (ESS), in­clud­ing the scar­let ibis, there is a need for an in­crease in fines for il­le­gal cap­ture of wildlife which have not been de­clared an ESS. This, it said, is to demon­strate the sever­i­ty of an of­fence, the po­ten­tial im­pact it has on con­ser­va­tion ef­forts and the in­ten­tion of the gov­ern­ment to de­ter il­le­gal hunt­ing.

The min­istry al­so ex­pressed con­cern about re­cent re­ports of il­le­gal hunt­ing and con­sump­tion of pro­tect­ed species, in­clud­ing the red howler mon­key and the less­er anteater, as well as an up­surge of smug­gled wildlife from neigh­bour­ing Venezuela and Guyana.

“These and oth­er in­dis­cre­tions must be met with the ap­pro­pri­ate leg­isla­tive ac­tion to in­crease: fines, sur­veil­lance and co-op­er­a­tion amongst the Min­istries of Agri­cul­ture, Land and Fish­eries; Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty; and Health, es­pe­cial­ly as there is a re­al threat of the in­tro­duc­tion of zoonot­ic dis­eases,” the min­istry said.

The re­lease al­so stat­ed that Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Clarence Ramb­harat is com­mit­ted to mon­i­tor­ing ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing the hunt­ing and closed sea­sons to de­ter­mine what fur­ther ac­tions are re­quired to strike the bal­ance be­tween hunt­ing in the open sea­son as well as the need for the sus­tain­able man­age­ment of wildlife re­sources and pub­lic safe­ty is­sues.

From 2019, the fines for hunt­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude: $10,000 for hunt­ing in a game sanc­tu­ary (up from $1,000); $10,000 for hunt­ing pro­tect­ed an­i­mals with­out a spe­cial game li­cence (up from $1,000); $1,500 for fail­ing to pro­duce a State game li­cence (up from $100); $4,000 for fail­ing to ob­tain a State game li­cence (up from $400); $10,000 for hunt­ing while dis­qual­i­fied (up from $2,000); $10,000 for hunt­ing dur­ing the closed sea­son/ex­er­cis­ing dogs dur­ing the closed sea­son (up from $2,000); $5,000 for fail­ing to give place of abode/giv­ing false place of abode (up from $100); $10,000 for as­sault­ing, ob­struct­ing/re­sist­ing a game war­den (up from $1,000); $10,000 for pay­ment of com­pen­sa­tion in­stead of fine (up from $200); $10,000 for ex­port of an­i­mals with­out per­mis­sion (up from $2,000); $5,000 for of­fences with­out fines spec­i­fied (up from $200) and a $10,000 lim­it of the min­is­ter to pre­scribe fines un­der the reg­u­la­tions (up from $200).

This month, T&T ac­ced­ed to the Con­ven­tion on the Con­ser­va­tion of Mi­gra­to­ry Species of Wild An­i­mals, the on­ly glob­al con­ven­tion spe­cial­is­ing in the con­ser­va­tion of mi­gra­to­ry species, their habi­tats and mi­gra­tion routes.