A college student learned a lesson about Florida’s wildlife laws this week that he won’t forget after fishing for grouper.
Joshua David Anyzeski, an 18-year-old from Palm Beach Gardens, was sent to jail on Monday after removing a Goliath grouper from the water to take a photo with it, reports state fish and wildlife officers.
Anyzeski received a misdemeanor charge for possession of a Goliath grouper. He was taken to Stock Island Detention Center but was released the same day for posting the $7,500 bond.
The Goliath grouper has been a protected fish in Florida since 1990. Possession or harvesting the grouper in state or federal waters is prohibited.
Anyzeski claims that he caught the 20-pound grouper in a lagoon on the College of the Florida Keys campus, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The lagoon that Anyzeski caught the fish is prohibited from fishing and is used by the College for dive training.
“The lagoon is a classroom space where we teach diving and marine science classes,” said the spokeswoman for College of the Florida Keys, Amber Ernst-Leonard. “It is filled with wildlife that we value and respect.”
Anyzeski said that once he caught the fish, he took it out of the water. He then was “messing around” with the fish, removed the hook, walked at least 100 feet, and took a photo.
He sent the photo of him, holding the grouper to a group chat of friends. One of the friends then reported it to Fish and Wildlife.
Police went to Anyzeski’s dorm room to question him about the photo.
“Photographs can be taken but only during the active act of release,” said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation website. “Photographs or any other activities such as measuring the fish should not delay release in any way.”
Larger Goliath grouper should not be removed from the water during release.
[H/T Miami Herald]