FWC uncovers illegal marine poaching operation; several lobster tails seized

Writer: Nicholas Karsen
Published: Updated:
Credit: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission uncovered an illegal poaching operation while patrolling the Florida waterways.

According to a Facebook post by the FWC, while on patrol, officers encountered a vessel that quickly dropped its dive flags and sped away.

A pursuit then began, leading officers to uncover seven undersized hogfish and eight out-of-season wrung lobster tails.

FWC reports after the pursuit ended, officers located the animals stashed inside a bag.

According to the FWC, the animals were illegally harvested by the marine poachers after officers reviewed GPS tracks.

GPS units on boats often leave lines or “tracks” on the screen showing where the boat has previously traveled. In this case, officers were able to use that to see where that particular vessel had recently been.

The Facebook post did not specify where the officers patrolled when discovering the suspected poachers.

Arrest warrants were issued for the two individuals aboard the vessel.

One of them had prior citations for similar offenses.

According to the FWC, hogfish can be harvested if they meet the minimum requirement of 14 inches fork length in Gulf waters and 16 inches fork length in Atlantic waters.

Hogfish season runs from May 1 through Oct. 31.

Only five fish can be caught per person in Gulf waters and one fish per person in Atlantic waters.

The FWC encourages people to report any violations witnessed to preserve Florida marine life.

To leave a tip or contact the FWC, contact the agency at 888-404-3922 or text 847411 (Tip411) with the keyword “FWC.”

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.