SOUTH REGION B – MONROE COUNTY
Lieutenant Payne along with Officers Piekenbrock and Martino were on routine water patrol in Waltz Key Basin north of Key West. Shortly after sunset the officers noticed a small skiff returning from offshore with no running lights. The officers followed undetected until they were in close proximity of the skiff. They activated their blue lights and stopped the skiff. The operator of the skiff claimed to have been snapper fishing. He had two large red coolers full of mangrove snappers on ice. He produced an SPL with no snapper grouper or restricted species endorsements. There was a total of 40 snappers in the coolers 39 of which were mangroves. The operator was cited for 33 mangrove snapper over the recreational limit and warned for several safety equipment violations and no running lights. The fish were photographed and released into the water.
While in plain clothes patrol at the 33rd Street boat ramp, Officer Bulger observed a gray Mercury sedan enter the parking lot. The sedan was occupied by a male and female subject. They stopped in front of the ramp and the male subject exited the car wearing a t-shirt and dark gray pants carrying a short pole, spear and a dive mask. Officer Bulger observed the subject enter the water on the north side of the ramp and submerge several times. The subject then swam to the south side of the ramp where he again submerged several times. After approximately 10 minutes in the water, the subject walked up the ramp towards the waiting sedan, concealing the pole spear inside his pants as he walked. As the male was about to enter the sedan, Officer Bulger approached and identified himself as a law enforcement officer. Officer Bulger asked the subject how many lobster he had gotten to which the subject replied “seven” as he removed seven wrung lobster tails from his pants pockets. The subject was cited for 5 misdemeanor violations that included; undersized lobster, wrung tails, over the limit, illegal harvest method, no measuring device, and 1 infraction for not having a valid saltwater fishing license.
Officer Hein was on water patrol in the Islamorada area when he noticed several divers in the water that appeared to be capturing lobster. One of the divers got into the boat with a bag of lobster and Officer Hein conducted a boating safety and resource inspection. Officer Hein asked if they had caught any lobster and the occupants said the only lobster they had was in the bag. Officer Hein asked if they had any other fish or lobster on board and they said they did not. While Officer Hein was inspecting safety equipment, an occupant picked up a lobster off the deck and threw it in the water. Officer Hein asked if there were any more lobster and the occupants said “no”. Officer Hein searched a cooler which revealed undersized lobster and an undersized speared red grouper. One of the occupants was cited for possession of undersized lobster and the other was cited for possession of undersized lobster, possession of undersized red grouper, and interference with an FWC Officer.
Officer Hein was on state water patrol in the Conch Key area when he conducted a boating safety and resource inspection on a vessel heading into a marina. At the conclusion of the boating safety and resource inspection, the captain was cited for possession of undersized yellowtail snapper and possession of undersized mutton snapper.
Officer Hein was on state land patrol in the Islamorada area when he saw several people under a bridge fishing and one of them was carrying a spear gun. He also noticed another man cutting a schoolmaster snapper into pieces and using it as bait. Officer Hein conducted a resource inspection and at the conclusion of the resource inspection, one individual was cited for failure to land snapper in whole condition, possession of undersized mangrove snapper, possession of undersized schoolmaster snapper, and possession of undersized black grouper.
Officer Hein was on state land patrol in the Tavernier area when he identified several individuals fishing by land under a bridge. Officer Hein conducted a resource inspection and immediately saw a cooler filled with mangrove snapper. At the conclusion of the resource inspection, two individuals were cited for not having the proper licensing and one individual was cited for possession of undersized mangrove snapper and over the bag limit of mangrove snapper.