Florida Keys News
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Early lobster poaching and snapper violations enforced

Officers cited five people in two separate poaching cases this weekend.

Two men couldn't wait for the official start of spiny lobster mini-season and were caught taking lobsters off Ohio Key on Saturday. In another case, three Miami men were cited for having 58 more mangrove snappers than they were legally allowed.

Sheriff's deputies caught the men with 73 mangrove snappers - well over the five-per-person daily bag limit, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Becky Herrin.

Those cited with possessing fish over the daily bag limit were Shawn Francis Xavier Carrasquillo and Shaquille Francis, Herrin said.

Sheriff's dispatchers received information from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers about 2:30 a.m. Monday that a silver Honda Pilot was northbound in Key Largo and may be carrying a large number of mangrove snappers, also called grey snappers. Deputy Tony Conde stopped the car at Mile Marker 104.

Three men in the car told the deputies they had been on a "party boat" out of Marathon and had fish from the boat in two coolers in the car. They opened the coolers, showing the deputies 73 fish -- 58 more than the limit for three people, Herrin said.

All were ticketed and released.

In a separate incident, one Miami man was jailed and another was cited for several fishing violations after they were caught spearfishing and catching spiny lobsters off Ohio Key on Saturday, according to an FWC arrest report.

Officers cited Hector Torres for possession of under-sized lobster, possession of out-of-season lobster and possession of wrung crawfish tails while on the water, the FWC report states.

Julio Finalt was arrested and charged with possesion of speared lobster tail, possession of under-sized lobster, possession of wrung crawfish tails on the water and possession of lobster out of season. Finalt was booked into the Monroe County jail, the report states.

A third man was questioned but not cited because he was not in possession of any lobster or fish.

Fish and Wildlife Officer Jason Richards was in plain clothes watching Torres, Finalet and the third man spearfishing with no dive flag displayed in the Ohio Missouri Channel, according to the FWC arrest report.

Richards watched Finalet place crawfish tails in a black basket that Torres was holding. He watched Torres fire a speargun multiple times then swim back and forth to the basket. The third person was also carrying a speargun but Richards never saw him in possession of any saltwater products or the black basket, the report states.

Other FWC officers arrived and ordered the men out of the water and into the FWC boat.

The officers told the men that the Ohio Missouri Bridge is a no spearfishing zone. Officer Steve Golden put on snorkel gear and recovered the basket containing the 10 wrung lobster tails, six of which were under size and one was speared.

Divers can't legally take lobsters until Wednesday for the two-day mini-season.

The subjects were placed in handcuffs and life jackets and taken to Sunshine Key boat ramp for questioning, the report states.

Finalet told officers he was "just spearfishing," the report states.

When questioned about the speared crawfish he said "he did not know anything." The officers told him that Officer Richards had witnessed him spearing crawfish and "he shrugged his shoulders and said prove it," the report states.

tohara@keysnews.com

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