FWC patrols Charlotte Harbor even on Christmas Day

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CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.- Lots of people are taking advantage of the great Florida weather and spending Christmas on the water. But, there are rules to follow and not everyone knows when they’re breaking the law. FWC officers are out on Charlotte Harbor making sure everyone was on Santa’s nice list.

“We’re looking for the same thing we’re normally looking for,” said Sam Cohl. “It’s a nice day so we should run into some people.” Cohl is an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who mostly works on and around Charlotte Harbor.

Christmas Day he’s still patrolling the waters. He says most people love being on the water so they behave. But many just don’t know Florida laws. “You’ve got people that live here maybe three or four months of the year,” Cohl explained. “Certain laws change and people just aren’t aware and it’s really our job to educate em.”

“In the years of working 95 percent of the time I’ve issued somebody a warning and the next time I stop them they had the problem corrected,” he added.

Case in point, as we were riding around Cohl grabbed his binoculars. Reporter Dave Culbreth asked, “What are you looking for here?”

He said, “I see a vessel up ahead and I’m just trying to figure out what they’re doing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a boat from a distance, you’ve got three guys on a boat and they’re all fishing and you pull up to ’em and they see you coming and they’ll stash the poles and say ‘oh we weren’t fishing’ because they don’t have fishing licenses.”

Culbreth then asked, “What do you say then?” Cohl said, “You just tell ’em you saw em fishing, you know.”

On this day, he discovered a family who bought a boat and jet skis a few months ago but haven’t registered them yet. “What I did was, being it’s Christmas and in the Christmas spirit, I had them pull the vessels out of the water and I wrote them some warnings and they’ll take care of the problem.”


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