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Contact: Matt Johnson, 786-335-3679
HOMESTEAD, Fla. --- On May 9, 2015, Biscayne National Park and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers conducted a safety and marine fisheries inspection on the commercial fishing vessel “El Donny.” The inspection ultimately resulted in filed charges, a plea agreement and sentencing.
During the inspection officers observed a lobster shell inside a crab trap, although the boat owner indicated that no lobsters were on the vessel. While inspecting the engine room, an officer noticed a white plastic bag hidden behind some engine equipment. This bag, along with four others that were discovered, included a total of 87 wrung lobster tails, 66 of which were undersized. All the lobsters were collected during a closed season and were required to remain in whole condition (separating tails from bodies is prohibited before they are ashore).
Biscayne National Park and FWC officers worked closely with the State Attorney’s office. The defendants have an extensive criminal history with multiple prior marine fisheries violations. Charges included; possession of spiny lobster out of season, possession of wrung spiny lobster tails, possession of undersized spiny lobster, interference with an officer and improper stone crab trap transfer.
On April 5, 2016, the defendants reported to Miami Dade’s court house to accept their plea agreement and enter their sentence. The two defendants plead guilty to all counts charged against them and accepted the States plea of adjudication of guilt to each count. The plea agreement included; permanent forfeiture of 43’ commercial fishing vessel, three years of reporting probation with a special condition that defendants may not register, operate or captain any commercial vessel during the probation, permanent forfeiture of saltwater products license including all endorsements and permanent forfeiture of all fishing/commercial licenses associated with the vessel “EL Donny.”
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