Florida Fisherman Busted With 2,611 Pompano Over the Limit

by Matthew Memrick

A Florida fisherman is in hot water, catching 2,611 Pompano over the legal limit with an illegal net.

Commercial fisherman Ronald Edward Birren used a net on his 48-foot vessel Legacy.  

What was the legal limit, you ask? That’s about 100 Pompano per catch outside the endorsement zone. USA Today reported on the crime.

Net, Massive Pompano Catch Lands Fisherman In Hot Water

The 52-year-old Birren recently used a monofilament gill net in a restricted area for his big haul.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers caught up with him in federal waters. The man was 5.5 miles south of the Pompano Endorsement Zone inside the Gulf of Mexico.

What gave the Hernando Beach resident away? Well, the man’s net was jam-packed full of the small fish. Most Pompano are reportedly less than three pounds when caught, though some freaks weigh eight to nine pounds. Those fish can measure between 23 to 25 inches long.

Massive Catch Weighed Nearly 4,000 Pounds

Officials escorted the man’s boat to Everglades City, where they learned the net had 2,611 pompanos in it. By law, fishers outside the endorsement zone can only pull 100 pompanos. Birren would have to throw all but 100 back in the water.

The man’s net weighed nearly 4,000 pounds, with some fish under the average weight. Authorities said 76 of the pompano measured less than the minimum size of 11 inches to the fork. The fish is growing in popularity among seafood restaurants and is a prized fish among aquafarmers.

Unfortunately, Birren couldn’t pull the ask for forgiveness and hope for the best routine. Additionally, AllPeople.com lists Birren as a chief executive officer at Hernando Beach Seafood in Spring Hill, Fla. The website does not record if that title is current or not.

Authorities cited Birren for possession of more than the allowable bycatch limit and undersized pompano. Strangely, the net possession charge was not in the citation list.

Banned Net Use Usually Results In Third-Degree Felony Charge

The man’s banned monofilament gill net is illegal in Florida waters. Federal use is restricted currently. If used in Florida waters, they usually result in third-degree felonies. The particular net lets tiny fish escape. However, most marine life tangles in the net and dies. Turtles and other sea mammals usually fall victim to the trap. Florida authorities banned the net in 1995.

Local reports didn’t say the date of Birren’s citations. However, a Monday press release can only mean the crime happened recently.

Maj. Alberto Maza, FWC South Region B Commander, commended his officers in the bust.

“Our officers are dedicated to protecting our state and federal fishery resources,” Maza said. “Violations such as this one highlights the importance of the work that these men and women do every day.”

Anglers can go after Pompeo all year long with a saltwater products license. But there are specific guidelines for catching the fish for those with or without a special endorsement.