All too often people who break environmental laws get off with a slap on the wrist, which most environmentalists consider a slap in the face. Not to mention that presumably most wildlife law breakers are never even caught. However, for a group of four Florida men, it looks as though they will probably be facing some pretty serious consequences for being caught red-handed poaching important and protected marine species.
The four men were the subject of a yearlong Fish and Wildlife Conservation poaching investigation that was organized after the department received tips about one of the men possibly being involved in some illegal fishing activities. An FWC officer describes the four men as knowing “exactly what they were doing. They built their vessels specifically to hide fish, and we knew that’. He also called their “disregard for Florida’s natural resources…astonishing’.
The species found between two boats included goliath grouper, red grouper, yellowtail snapper, African pompano and a “chopped up’ sea turtle, all of which are illegal to possess. The men made so much off of poaching that two of the men were able to quit their day jobs to focus full-time on acquiring the high priced species.
The bust was aided by a “specially trained canine officer’, who was needed because of the men had designed their vessels specifically to hide target species. The men are now facing serious charges. One is being charged with 23 misdemeanor counts of illegal possession; and the other three are each facing 225 misdemeanor counts for illegal possession, and one felony for the taking and mutilation of the sea turtle.
This article should feel reassuring to environmentalists who have watched repeatedly as poachers are given the benefit of the doubt, or multiple chances to discontinue their activities, all while we lose vital species to extinction. The officers involved speak passionately about saving resources for their children, and that is exactly what we need. Passionate, (and well-funded) enforcement efforts that yield real results, and set real examples.
Gill, Kristine. “Four Arrested for Breaking Fishing Laws’ Naples Daily News, 2015. https://www.naplesnews.com/news/local/four-arrested-for-breaking-fishing-laws-ep-1197520495-337519981.html