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Old 10-07-2015, 08:44 AM
1,448 posts, read 2,135,977 times
Reputation: 2354


The Keys continuously have news articles on people who have decided to commit crimes against our environment, despite stringent laws.

Laws here include mandatory no-wake zones, very strict regulations on when spearfishing is allowed, and numerous laws regarding lobster.

Along with so many who chose to violate these laws before before him, a Marathon man is now sitting in prison for being caught with 121 illegal lobster. On board the boat were 77 wrung tails (you cannot wring the tails off lobster), and 44 whole lobster (exceeding the limit). 35 of the lobster were undersized - you have to carry a measuring tool onboard with you to ensure the lobsters are old enough to have mated before. (You also can't take a female lobster full of eggs.) Additionally, he had 6 stone crabs out of season.

The boat was seized, and he currently faces 121 misdemeanors and is being held on $42,000 bond.

Recently, 3 brothers ended up spending 6 months in federal prison each, in addition to a year of supervised release, and a $25,000 fine each for illegal lobstering. In the Keys, this kind of crime is no joke.

Lately, there has been a strong push to prosecute any offenders to the maximum the law will allow, to send a message. Don't expect to get off with a slap on the wrist.

Many who come to the Keys do not understand how important these laws are. They are needed to try to restock our ocean and reef system with sealife that has been overfished and environmentally damaged for many decades. When you take undersized sealife especially, or when you damage the local seagrass beds by running aground, you kill the chance for eggs to be laid and hatch, repopulating the local waters.

People continue to come to the Keys, whether to vacation or to live, and flaunt the laws. People also continue to get caught and face large fines and serious charges. When you overfish, you are killing the livelihood of many local small businesses, beyond simply small fishing companies. When you dump your sewage illegally or litter, you are killing fish and seagrass (and dolphins and manatees), and poisoning the waters for anyone near shore to be able to use. When you boat under the influence, you endanger the lives of everyone on the water, not to mention usually damage your boat and also run aground and destroy seagrass.

If you're going to come down here, know the local laws, and follow them! Or expect to pay the price, potentially with your freedom.

There are multiple websites which detail the local environmental laws, and you can also easily locate pamphlets explaining them in local visitor centers, state parks, Key West's Eco-Discovery Center, and many hotels. If you have any questions, you can also call the FWC or local law enforcement.
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