Florida Fish and Wildlife Officers Find 300 Pounds of Illegally Imported Conch, Stone Crab on Fishing Vessel
By Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission // March 22, 2023
queen conch is a restricted species and illegal importation constitutes, a federal crime
(FWC) – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers discovered nearly 300 pounds of illegally imported queen conch and stone crab in a large compartment during a resource inspection on a fishing vessel returning from the Bahamas.
Also found were so many reef fish and fillets, additional FWC officers were called in to fully document the evidence.
The queen conch is a restricted species and illegal importation constitutes a Lacey Act violation, a federal crime.
In Brevard Countythis month, while conducting resource inspections in Port Canaveral, Officer Specialist Balgo observed and addressed several violations:
• While inspecting one vessel, he located an undersized cobia. The owner of the vessel was cited accordingly.
• While conducting a resource inspection, he located three out of season red snapper inside a cooler. The individual’s information was passed along to NOAA for further action.
• While inspecting another vessel, he located two undersized cobia inside a compartment. The individual was cited accordingly.
■ Officer Snyder received information from Officer Specialist Balgo regarding an individual keeping redfish at Pine Island. Officer Snyder located an individual matching the description and observed a redfish in his cooler. The individual was cited accordingly.
■ Officer Specialist Hallsten was conducting water patrol near Port Canaveral when he observed a fishing vessel returning from sea. A fisheries inspection was conducted, and it was discovered the subject had been commercial diving for lobster and did not display his commercial dive number on the vessel. The subject had previously been warned for the same violation by Officer Hallsten. A citation was issued accordingly.
■ Officer Specialists Balgo and Hallsten were conducting water patrol near Port Canaveral when they observed a fishing vessel returning from sea. The subjects on the vessel stated they had one red snapper and some bonito and that those were the only fish on the vessel. The officers followed a trail of blood and slime to a storage hatch and found three undersized cobia. Charges include undersized red snapper, undersized cobia, over the vessel limit of cobia, and interference with an FWC officer.
■ Officer Specialist Marroquin and Officer St. Martin were conducting an offshore fisheries patrol outside of Sebastian Inlet and did a resource inspection on a fishing vessel returning to shore. The subject onboard stated he had caught only lane snapper during his trip. The subject then opened his cooler revealing the lane snapper to the officers but quickly shut it. Officers St. Martin and Marroquin noticed this behavior and upon closer inspection, they discovered several bags of cobia fillets underneath the ice in the cooler. The subject was cited accordingly.
■ Officer Specialist Marroquin and Officer St. Martin were on water patrol when they noticed a fishing vessel leaving a popular snook fishing spot. The officers conducted a resource inspection, which revealed the subject was in possession of an over-slot snook. The subject was cited accordingly.
■ Officer Specialist Marroquin and Officer St. Martin were on offshore fisheries patrol at a local reef known for cobia fishing. As they approached the reef, they observed a group of anglers quickly packing up their gear. After noticing this behavior, they conducted a resource inspection and found the subjects to be in possession of over three times their legal bag limit of cobia, one of which was undersized. The subjects were cited accordingly.
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