Sunday 15 September, 2019

$800 fine for Scarlet Ibis carcass, Rambharat says $100K fine in force

Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, Clarence Rambharat said two foreigners and one local who were found with a dead baby Scarlet Ibis were fined on the basis that new fines of up to $100,000 had not been Gazetted. 

However, Rambharat clarified on Tuesday morning that the new fines, which were signed in July 2018, had been Gazetted on October 11, 2018, and are now in effect.

Rambharat said the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) had only been advised that the new law was in effect on October 15, 2018. 

The two Chinese nationals and Trinidadian national, a local handyman, were caught with the dead baby Scarlet Ibis on Sunday afternoon.

The trio, Jiang Hui Feng, 30, Jin Feng Feng, 30, and Alion Ramkhalawan, 55, appeared before the Port of Spain Magistrate’s Third Court before Magistrate Sanara Toon-McQuilkin on Monday.

They all plead guilty to the charges and were fined $800 each. 

Game Warden II Richard Ramlogan and Game Warden I Nicholas Leith were the complainants (the charging officers) in the matter.

The Scarlet Ibis was labelled an Environmentally Sensitive Species in July. The signing of that legal notice means that persons found recklessly endangering or adversely impacting the species are liable to a fine of $100,000 or two years imprisonment.

In their defence, the trio said they did not know that the bird was a Scarlet Ibis as it had brown feathers instead of red. Additionally, they said they found the bird dead but did not tell the court what they intended to do with the carcass. 

After further submissions, Toon-McQuilkin explained that under the new legislation, she had even considered custodial sentencing, however, given the trio had all plead guilty and not wasted the court’s time, and were even very cooperative with investigators, a decision was made to fine the three men instead.

Rambharat said Cabinet has already approved an increase of up to $10,000 for poaching fines, which will be part of the Finance Bill to be laid in Parliament after the Budget Debate. 

Rambharat added that he is dealing with the issue of overhunting of lizards, particularly iguanas in residential areas, ducks and other species. He said "discussions are in train" on the use of pellet and air guns. 


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