Florida Poaching Ring: 10 Arrested for Illegally Netting Hundreds of Pounds of Fish

by Jonathan Howard

There are 10 poachers who are likely wishing they hadn’t illegally caught 500 pounds of fish in Florida. Officials caught them poaching with nets.

The fish were also illegally caught with nets. Each suspect came down to the Sunshine States from Atlanta. They had four gill nets that extended 1,600 feet. They had been fishing at the Skyway Bridge rest stop in St. Petersburg.

Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released the information back on Thursday. The suspects ranged in age from 18 to 43 and were all charged with third-degree felony use of illegal gill nets. They were each also charged with first, as well as second, degree misdemeanor violations. Those are related to the illegal capture of various species.

The fish that fall under the law include permit, black drum, snook, blue crab, trout, sharks, as well as sheepshead.

So, these poachers will face a maximum of five years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine for the third-degree felony. The max penalty for the misdemeanor is a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. As for the second-degree misdemeanor, it is 60 days and/or a $500 fine.

The nets that were used, gill nets, are invisible when they are underwater. These nets kill fish when they are captured by the way they are attached to the gills. They can do all sorts of damage to the environment, to wildlife, and if they are left or abandoned in the water, they pose a serious threat to the fish, birds, and other creatures.

For these reasons and more, Florida has had the gill nets banned for almost 30 years. Officials received a tip and made the arrests. Poaching never pays off.

Poaching Twice In A Single Day

From Florida to Washington state, there are folks that bend and break the laws. Poachers are just never going to learn. For one poacher in Washington, he received two citations on the same day. When Wildlife officials realized, they were shocked by the poaching.

After the poacher had been caught twice, he ended up in a worse predicament. Just when things couldn’t have gone worse, he was in a wreck on his way out of the second area. In total, he had nine salmon taken from him and his accomplices.

“After being contacted and cited by two fish and wildlife officers on two different closed water bodies, the individual wrecked his vehicle on Hwy 101 near Potlach,” officials said.

Also with the poacher was a group of three other illegal anglers. They had, “blatantly” violated the rules according to the officer who cited them. If you fish in an area set up to protect fish, expect to be cited. Then to have the nerve to do it again, just an hour and a half later… that takes some nerve.

Hopefully, the poaching is over for this angler. However, he may just be foolish enough to do it again.