84.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 25, 2024


Oct. 27, 2003 – St. Thomas fishermen Rick and Jason Berry pleaded guilty on Friday to fishing in British Virgin Islands waters without a license and registration. Sentencing is set for this Friday, Magistrate Gail Charles said.
The pleas came after their trial was well under way. The men face up to $500,000 in fines but will likely be assessed much less than that. Their lawyer, Hayden St. Clair-Douglas, asked the court on Friday to impose a "minimal" fine on his clients.
"What they were doing was pursuing a legitimate livelihood," St. Clair-Douglas said. He added that the brothers had seen their fishing boat, worth an estimated $25,000, seized, and had been unemployed as a result. "It has been more than a year, and these men have lost a considerable amount of income," the attorney said.
The brothers were arrested on Oct. 15, 2002, at West End, Tortola, as they prepared to unload some 250 pounds of fish they admit were caught in B.V.I. waters from their St. Thomas boat, Forever Fishing. The fish were to be sold to the B.V.I. Fishing Complex, according to the Berrys.
The Berrys now admit that Forever Fishing's B.V.I. license and registration were expired at the time of their arrest. However, in court on Friday, St. Clair-Douglas said that while the men have accepted that they cannot successfully defend themselves in court against the charges, there is more to the story. He pointed out that the men did produce work permits and customs clearance documents during their partially heard trial.
"You can ask yourself how these people would have been able to obtain work permits and the like without first having a fishing license," the lawyer told the court.
In his testimony in July, Rick Berry said that his business partner, Raymond Smith, was responsible for applying for and obtaining B.V.I. fishing licenses. Smith is a resident of St. Thomas but a citizen of the B.V.I., Berry said. He said that had he paid Smith $250 to renew Forever Fishing's license in late September 2002, but that the new license had not yet been obtained at the time of the brothers' arrest.

Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.