Diver calls for probe into parrotfish killings
A scuba diver appealed for an investigation into a possible poaching incident after she found the butchered remains of a protected fish species.
Natalie Price turned to social media to spread the word about the bodies of five parrotfish that she found cleaned of their flesh and discarded in the waters near St George’s.
She said: “It was heartbreaking – parrotfish are so beautiful and an important part of the environment so it was really sad to see something like this happen.”
Ms Price added: “Hopefully by putting a story out, people will keep their eyes open and they’ll catch the person who did this.”
Ms Price, 45, from Smith’s, said she came across the bodies on Tuesday afternoon while diving near Alexandra Battery Park in St George’s.
She said that she was competing in the Lionfish Grand Prix tournament and had gone out to hunt for lionfish, but instead found the pile of carcasses near the reefs.
Ms Price said: “I was just horrified – it was totally upsetting and it made me mad.
“I pretty much always bring my GoPro with me, so when I came across the parrotfish I just decided to film it.”
She added: “I didn’t think I was going to post it but I did – I posted it because I thought it helped spread awareness.”https://www.facebook.com/nataliedyrli/videos/10164087696610478
Ms Price said it was clear the fish were caught by humans, but she could not tell how they were caught or how long they had been on the rocks.
She added: “I believe that whoever did that probably knew that they shouldn’t be doing that.”
Ms Price said the video, which she posted to her Facebook and Instagram accounts, triggered a frenzy of comments that condemned those responsible.
She added that the Department of Fisheries later contacted her about the incident.
Ms Price said that many people were “upset and disturbed” by the act because of the importance that parrotfish had to the environment.
She said: “Parrotfish are such beautiful creatures, but not only are they beautiful they’re a protected species, they’re vital to Bermuda’s ecosystem, they’re responsible for helping to create the pink sand, they consume algae off the reefs.
“They’re so essential and they are beloved here – I think that’s why people had such a strong reaction.”
Parrotfish have been a protected species in Bermuda since 1987.
Anyone who knowingly captures, injures, kills or possesses parrotfish can suffer a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and a fine of $25,000.
Any animals taken and any vessels, instruments or equipment used can also be taken.
Ms Price said incidents such as these might happen more often than thought but went unnoticed or unreported.
She encouraged others to report any suspicious behaviour they saw while out at sea, as well as any environmental damage they believed to have been man-made.
Ms Price said: “I’m not one to rat on people, but this really upset me.
“If you see something, say something. Hopefully they’ll find the person – or people – responsible.”
Requests for comment from the the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had not been responded to by press time last night.