Wednesday, May 31, 2017

FWC Division of Law Enforcement Weekly Report May 12, 2017 through May 18, 2017

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
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FWC
Division of Law Enforcement

 FWC logo and law enforcement badge
Weekly Report
May 12, 2017 through May 18, 2017

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.

Patrol, Protect, Preserve

NORTHWEST REGION

CASES

BAY COUNTY

Lieutenant Allen and Officer Rice were patrolling in federal waters when they saw a vessel returning from offshore. During the resource inspection, the operator stated that each of the four people on board had their limit of red snapper. Officer Rice located 8 red snapper in the cooler. The operator was issued a citation for possession of red snapper in federal waters during closure.

Officer T. Basford was on patrol near the Warren Bayou Canal (Steam Plant Canal) when he saw two ATVs being operated at a high rate of speed on a paved county road. The operators each had fishing gear and were heading towards the Steam Plant Canal. One of the ATVs drove around a locked gate to access St. Joe Company property. The two individuals were contacted while they were fishing at the Steam Plant Canal, which is Gulf Power Company property. Both individuals were in possession of undersized red drum and were issued citations for operating an ATV on a public road, possession of undersized red drum and trespassing.

Officers Hellett and Alsobrooks were on foot patrol at a local marina when they saw three individuals on a vessel that appeared to have been on a fishing trip. When asked if they had been out fishing, one of the subjects stated they had been on a two-day trip. Upon inspection, they were in possession of 56 mahi-mahi and two red grouper. The fishermen were over the daily bag limit for mahi-mahi by 26 fish. The bag limit and extended trip rules were explained to the vessel captain and he took responsibility for the violation. A citation was issued to the vessel captain.

ESCAMBIA COUNTY

Officers Cushing and Land were on water patrol in Pensacola Bay and conducted a marine fisheries inspection on a small fishing vessel near a navigational buoy. Upon contacting the two persons on board, they said that they had a few lane snapper. An inspection revealed they were in possession of 17 juvenile red snapper, all of them measuring between six and thirteen inches. The appropriate action was taken for the violation of possession of red snapper during closed season.

Officers Allgood and Manning patrolled federal waters south of Pensacola and found five different vessel operators in possession of red snapper during closed season. Federal citations were issued for the violations.

Officer Long checked vessels as they returned to Navy Point Boat Ramp and found one individual in possession of 15 undersized red snapper and another individual in possession of an amberjack during closed season. Officer Long issued notice to appear citations for the violations.

Officer Manning received information that someone was selling seafood at a local flea market without a license. When he arrived, he found an individual selling blue crabs, shrimp and blue runners. The individual did not have a saltwater retail license or any records on where the fish were purchased. Notice to appear citations were issued for the violations.

FRANKLIN COUNTY

Officer Matechik saw a vessel and two subjects harvesting oysters past the required harvesting time. Officers Matechik and Fletcher conducted a resource inspection and found ten bags of culled oysters. Both subjects were charged with over the bag limit and possession of untagged oysters. They were also warned for failing to deliver oysters directly to a dealer and possession of undersized oysters. Officers Matechik and Fletcher seized the oysters and returned them to the bay alive.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico on board the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV)Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Boyd, Nelson, Rockwell and Trueblood located a commercial shrimping vessel approximately 12 miles south of St. George Island. During a resource inspection, the officers located egg-bearing slipper lobster in the vessel’s ice hold. Interviews of the crew revealed the deckhand placed the illegal product in the hold. The appropriate action was taken for the violations.

Officers Nelson and Raker were in plain clothes on Resource Protection Service patrol at the Old Ferry Dock Boat Ramp in East Point. While walking across the parking lot, Officer Nelson was approached by a female and asked if he wanted to buy some shrimp. The female then showed Officer Nelson three coolers containing shrimp and scales in the back of her truck. When asked if she had a saltwater products retail license, she said “No.” The appropriate action was taken for the violations.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Boyd, Nelson, Rockwell and Trueblood located a commercial shrimping vessel approximately 11 miles south of St. George Island. During a resource inspection, the officers located egg-bearing slipper lobster, spiny lobster during closed season and a prohibited Bahama starfish. Further inspection of the turtle excluder devices (TEDs) revealed that all four TEDs exceeded legal specifications with six violations. The appropriate action was taken for the violations.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Boyd, Nelson, Rockwell and Trueblood located a commercial shrimping vessel approximately 10 miles south of Little St. George Island. During the boarding, the officers inspected the TEDs and two of the four TEDs exceeded legal specifications. The appropriate action was taken for the violations.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Nelson and Richardson located two vessels approximately 12 miles south of Carrabelle. While approaching the vessels, the occupants threw red snapper overboard upon seeing law enforcement. The officers addressed the violations of possession of red snapper during federal closure and throwing fish overboard upon law enforcement approach.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Nelson and Richardson located a vessel approximately 12 miles south of St. George Island. During a resource inspection, Officer Nelson located red snapper and gag grouper aboard the vessel. Both occupants possessed salt water products licenses and admitted to knowledge of the federal closure. The appropriate enforcement actions were taken for the violations.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Vigilance, Officers Rockwell and Trueblood, Captain Martin, and NOAA Officer Harwell located a vessel approximately 14 miles southeast of Carrabelle. During a resource inspection, Officer Trueblood located red snapper in the cooler. The violations of possession of red snapper during federal closure were addressed with the appropriate actions.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Boyd, Fletcher, Matechik and Captain Wood located a commercial vessel approximately 65 miles south of Carrabelle in the marine protected area referred to as “The Edges.” The vessel was using illegal “J” hooks with use of natural bait for reef fish. The appropriate enforcement action was taken for the violation.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Nelson and Richardson located a vessel approximately 15 miles south of Carrabelle. During a resource inspection, Officer Richardson located undersized black sea bass, red snapper and gag grouper during federal closure and the use of “J” hooks with natural bait intended for reef fish, cut-up red snapper on their bait table and hooks. An interview of the occupants reinforced that they had cut-up red snapper and were using it for bait during closed season. The violations of possession of red snapper during federal closure, not landing in whole condition and using reef fish for bait were addressed with the appropriate warnings and citations.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Vigilance, Officers Rockwell and Trueblood, Captain Martin, and NOAA Officer Harwell located a vessel approximately 22 miles southeast of Carrabelle. Upon boarding the vessel, Officer Trueblood and Harwell interviewed the vessel owner who admitted to possession of filleting amberjack and placing it in a refrigerator. The violations of possession of greater amberjack during a closed season and not landing in whole condition was addressed with the appropriate action.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow and Officers Nelson and Richardson located a vessel approximately 16 miles south of Carrabelle. During a resource inspection, Officers Nelson and Richardson located nine red snapper taken during federal closure. An interview of the occupants revealed they had knowledge of the closure and their location. The violation of possession of red snapper during federal closure was addressed with the appropriate action.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Vigilance, Officers Rockwell and Trueblood, Captain Martin, and NOAA Officer Harwell located a vessel near the “O” Tower south of Carrabelle. During a resource inspection, Officer Harwell located red snapper in the cooler. The violations of possession of red snapper during federal closure was addressed with the appropriate action.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenants Marlow, Hoelscher, Officers Nelson and Boyd located a commercial vessel approximately 52 miles south of St. Vincent Island. During a resource inspection, Officers Nelson and Boyd located multiple fishing rigs with “J” hooks baited with natural bait for reef fish. The appropriate enforcement action was taken for the violations.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Vigilance, Officers Rockwell, Trueblood, Captain Martin and NOAA Officer Harwell located a commercial vessel approximately 50 miles south of Carrabelle. During a resource inspection, Officer Harwell found the vessel was not in compliance with the required turtle mitigation gear. The violations were addressed with the appropriate action.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenants Marlow, Hoelscher, Officers Nelson and Boyd located a commercial vessel approximately 60 miles south of St. Vincent Island. While approaching the vessel, the officers saw the occupants looking at the vessel, then start removing reef fish from the lines and throwing them overboard. A vermillion snapper was recovered and a lane snapper was not recovered. Upon boarding the vessel, Officer Nelson and Boyd located undersized lane snapper, red snapper, grey triggerfish, and vermillion snapper in their bait wells and on the hooks. They also issued charges for use of reef fish for bait, possession of marijuana and interference with an FWC officer. The appropriate enforcement action was taken for the violations.

While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the OPV Guardian, Lieutenants Marlow and Hoelscher and Officers Nelson and Boyd located a commercial longline vessel approximately 55 miles south of St. Vincent Island. Upon boarding the vessel, Officers Nelson and Boyd located cut-up shark pieces placed on hooks and rigged for fishing. Further inspection revealed approximately 40 pounds of amberjack fillets in a bait container. The vessel operator was asked to retrieve the gear and more shark pieces were located on the hooks, including red snapper pieces. A count of the hooks revealed that they exceeded the allowable amount of 750 rigged hooks and 1,000 total hooks aboard with nearly 1,200 fished, 180 more rigged hooks and an additional 150 plus hooks for a total exceeding 1,500 hooks. Additionally, the crew threw several pieces of shark and trash overboard during the stop. The appropriate enforcement action was taken for the violations.

GULF COUNTY

Officers H. Webb and M. Webb were on patrol in federal waters and made three separate federal fisheries cases. The first vessel they checked was actively fishing 10½ miles out and was in possession red snapper. The second vessel was inbound from offshore federal waters when the officers approached it. The vessel made a sudden stop and then continued in a northbound direction. Once the officers stopped the vessel, they noticed a large red snapper floating behind them. After a brief discussion, the occupants admitted to dumping the red snapper. The third vessel was actively fishing 13 miles out in federal waters and found to be in possession of red snapper. All the vessels were written federal citations for possession of red snapper during the federal closed season.

JACKSON COUNTY

Officers Little, Hayes and Baber responded to an ongoing trespass complaint, but when the officers arrived, the individual was no longer present. The officers spoke with the landowner who had game camera photos of the suspect trespassing on a tractor. The officers followed the tire sign for more than a mile to a neighboring residence. As the officers approached the male subject on the property, they located the tractor, a small dog, fishing poles and a cooler that were captured on the landowner’s game camera. They also noticed that the subject was wearing the same clothes as in the photos. Appropriate charges will be filled with the state attorney’s office for the violations.

OKALOOSA COUNTY

Officer Bartlett was on vessel patrol in Choctawhatchee Bay conducting boating safety inspections when he was dispatched to a boating accident at the Marler Bridge. The accident involved a single vessel striking the Marler Bridge piling. The vessel was a 24‑foot rental pontoon with three people on board. The investigation revealed the primary cause of the accident was operator inexperience in waters affected by tidal current. The impact resulted in damages of approximately $6,000 to the starboard side pontoon on the vessel. No one was ejected from the vessel and there were no injuries. A livery operator was issued a notice to appear citation for renting to someone that is required to have a boater safety card.

SANTA ROSA COUNTY

Investigator Molnar followed up on a complaint about a subject possibly killing over the bag limit of turkey during the 2017 spring season. After multiple interviews with several people, Investigator Molnar interviewed the subject. After the interview, the subject confessed to killing five turkeys in northwest Florida during the 2017 spring turkey season. Three sets of turkey spurs and beards were seized as evidence. Charges will be filed on a later date.

WAKULLA COUNTY

Officer Hughes saw a commercial oyster vessel returning to Mashes Sands Boat Ramp. Upon seeing the officer, the boat stopped short of the dock and Officer Hughes noticed one of the occupants bending over something in the boat. Officer Hughes made his way to the boat and saw the individual attaching commercial oyster harvest tags to four bags of oysters on board. Commercial harvesters are required to fill out and attach the tags before leaving the harvest area. When the vessel came to the dock, Officer Hughes discovered that all the harvest tags were blank. Officers Stephens and Sauls arrived to assist. When questioned about where they harvested the oysters, the men claimed they had harvested them at the mouth of Chaires Creek in the Ochlockonee Bay, an area that was temporarily closed to all shellfish harvest. In addition to the oyster harvest violations, the vessel did not have a hull identification number attached and was missing some required safety gear. The operator was issued multiple criminal charges and warnings and all bags of oysters were seized and returned to the water alive.

WALTON COUNTY

Officers Letcher, Brooks, and Tison patrolled Point Washington Wildlife Management Area (WMA) targeting ongoing violations such as destruction to gates, wildlife food plots, and roads with motor vehicles. The officers saw two vehicles traveling together through the WMA in a careless manner causing damage to the road. When a traffic stop was attempted, the drivers fled into opposite directions. As he attempted to avoid being apprehended, one of the drivers operated his vehicle in an aggressive manner toward Officer Tison’s patrol vehicle causing him to exit the roadway into a ditch. A short time later, the driver decided to stop and was taken into custody. A records check revealed the driver had a pending case for DUI which involved a traffic accident. A search of his vehicle revealed a small amount of cannabis. The subject was booked into the Walton County Jail for fleeing and eluding, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, reckless driving, damage to state property, and possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis. The other driver was identified and located the following day and charges will be direct filed for reckless driving and damage to state property.

COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING

ESCAMBIA COUNTY

Officer Cushing spoke to a group of approximately 20 members of the Pensacola Recreational Fisherman’s Association. Officer Cushing gave an overview of the agency’s core mission and answered many questions in regards to current saltwater regulations and boating safety.

SANTA ROSA COUNTY

Officers Jernigan and Lewis participated in a Career Field Day at Chumuckla Elementary School. The FWC officers, Santa Rosa Sheriff’s K-9 deputies, and local EMT’s, paramedics, and volunteers from the local fire departments spent time with different classes to tell about their careers and what they do each day in the field. Officers Jernigan and Lewis spoke to more than 150 children about boating and gun safety. Each child boarded a patrol vessel, received coloring books, stickers and fun facts about Florida’s bears and alligators.


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