Man arrested after FWC officers find him with 9 sharks on his boat

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FWC officials arrested Bryan Becker, 35, on multiple charges of illegally catching sharks after discovering him with the animals on his boat.

The incident occurred near Porto Bello Street in Bokeelia on Feb. 15 around 4 a.m.

An FWC officer was patrolling the area when he heard the motor from a boat in the Matlacha area of Jug Creek. The officer noticed a grey “Mullet Skiff” coming toward him at a high rate of speed in a manatee zone with no lights on, according to the arrest report.

Once Becker tied up his boat at the nearby Jug Creek Fish House, the officer approached  him. Becker immediately began throwing the fish on his boat back into the water, officials say.

The officer told Becker to stop and confronted him. The officer noted there were eight Bonnethead sharks and one Blacktip shark on the boat. There were also numerous other fish.

The Blacktip shark appeared to have been caught with a monofilament gill net, which was still entangled around the shark, the report states.

The bag limit for catching sharks is one per person per day.

Becker was taken into custody and now faces charges of reckless operation of a vessel, possession of sharks over the bag limit, illegal method of take for shark, failure to transfer title, obstruction of an FWC officer and felony violation of probation for a January conviction of gill netting.

The deceased sharks were returned to the water.

But the mother of Becker’s children is fighting back against his critics.

“I just want people to know he is a good person, and he’s not doing anything that he believes is bad,” she said. She did not want to be identified for safety reasons.

“I just think that FWC was out to get him. I think they’re treating him really unfairly and I don’t agree with the punishment he’s receiving for it,” she added. “The sharks—he had no idea it was illegal, he swears up and down. He would have never kept it if he knew that.”

But Becker also has a history of similar arrests—including animal cruelty and destroying a species of special concern.

“Just because FWC considers it illegal, there’s nothing morally wrong with what he’s doing,” the woman said.

She adds, “They (the kids) ask me every day, “when’s dad getting out?” and I don’t know what to tell them right now.”

Becker was taken to the Lee County Jail.


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