|Courtesy of Heartbeat News|
Lawrence W. Beckman, of
Beckman was charged with failing to obtain written permission from Bahamian authorities, as required by Bahamian conservation laws, to harvest hard and soft coral species within the Commonwealth of the
According to the indictment, in October 2002, Beckman made a commercial harvesting trip from
After securing 500 specimens of Gorgonia, commonly referred to as sea fans, and 500 pounds of live rock and coral, Beckman steered a course for Lake Worth Inlet. Enroute, the Coast Guard Cutter Bluefin spotted the MARY ANNE running without required navigation lights and intercepted the vessel.
Coast Guard boarding officers noted 4 large drums of fuel on the deck of the vessel and multiple sets of scuba equipment. During a safety and document check, they located the contraband corals in specially equipped “live wells” and in a converted fuel tank below a hatch cover in the main cabin, and took the MARY ANNE to the Coast Guard Station at Lake Worth Inlet. Beckman admitted to the Coast Guardsmen that he had been on a commercial harvesting trip to an area about 1.5 nautical miles east of Sandy Cay in the Bahamas and that he did not possess any permit from the Commonwealth allowing him to harvest marine resources from Bahamian waters.
The Government of the
The Lacey Act, the oldest national wildlife protection law in the
United States District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra, who accepted Beckman’s guilty plea, set sentencing in the matter for December 20, 2007. In addition to jail time, Beckman could be fined up to $250,000.
Coral reef destruction has been the subject of intense debate both within the
As nurseries for marine species of commercial value, as well as a source of income from recreational fishing and eco-tourists, and a protective barrier for coastlines, a significant effort is underway to preserve the existing reef structures and reverse their decline.