Florida Fish and Wildlife Officers Nail Poachers For Undersized Red Groupers
By MyFWC // June 30, 2016
The operators of a vessel were surprised when Officers Spoede and Thompson, Investigator Ruggiero and Lieutenant Barrett stopped them for a fisheries inspection approximately 25 miles offshore.
As the officers neared the boat, they watched the operator remove something from a fillet table and throw it to the back of the vessel.
During the inspection, the officers found eight undersized red grouper and a red grouper fillet, which the operator seemed to have tried to hide. While checking the fishing gear, they found another grouper fillet being used as bait.
The vessel operators were charged with multiple criminal fisheries violations.
Why were they surprised to see our officers so far from shore?
They may have thought our officers only patrolled state waters. State waters extend 3 nautical miles from the Atlantic shore and 9 nautical miles in the Gulf, while federal waters extend from the end of state waters to about 200 nautical miles offshore.
Our officers enforce all state laws and, as part of a joint enforcement agreement with NOAA, our officers’ jurisdiction extends into federal waters.
Part of their responsibilities include patrolling those waters to conserve federal fisheries as well as to help people in need of rescue.
Learn more about the FWC’s involvement in the management of fisheries in federal waters:
For information on recreational regulations on grouper, click here: http://myfwc.com/fishing/