FWC crew nails 15 for Tortugas fishing violations

A month-long mission to protect the mutton-snapper fishery found violations that resulted in 15 misdemeanor conservation charges, says a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report released this week.BRBR”Operation For Future Generations” dispatched FWC officers on the long-range patrol boat IPeter Gladding/I as far as the Dry Tortugas, and other FWC vessels to known spawning grounds including Riley’s Hump in the Lower Keys./ppPatrols from April 27 through May 27 “did successfully increase FWC enforcement efforts focusing on mutton snappers during their most vulnerable times,” says an agency account. “It was accomplished through rough weather with long hours, days away from families, and mostly through the officers’ dedication.”/ppAbout a dozen officers were involved. FWC Officers Martin Messier, Glen Way, Raul Pena-Lopez and Lt. Josh Peters crewed the IPeter Gladding/I on most of its multi-day trips./ppViolations reported by officers during inspections to ensure the 10-fish daily limit on mutton snapper:/ppLI The operator of a 50-foot sportfishing boat was given a notice to appear in court after “16 bags of mutton snapper fillets” were found during an inspection. He was cited for not preserving reef fish in whole condition as required./ppLI A cache of concealed conch meat, snapper fillets and over-the-limit yellowtail were found hidden aboard a 28-foot open fisherman stopped on the way back from the Tortugas. People aboard were charged after they told officers that a legal batch of fish in a cooler was the extent of their catch./ppLI Stone-crab claws, undersized and out of season, were found aboard an inspection of a shrimp boat. The operator also was cited for having filleted reef fish./ppCitations were issued to two people aboard a commercial yellowtail boat after they reportedly attempted to discard lines using J-hooks, a type of fish hook prohibited in some federal waters./ppMore than 52 inspections were made during the operation, which generated boating-safety citations and written conservation warnings.

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