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Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council member's commercial boats violates fish law

m9000m9000 Senior MemberPosts: 2,188 Captain
http://keysnews.com/node/52929

"A Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council member and commercial fishing boat owner defended his crew members who were convicted last week for taking fish from one of the most protected areas in the Lower Keys."They absolutely will remain the subcontractors on my boat," said Martin Fisher, the chairman of two advisory panels with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council -- the Reef Fish Advisory Panel and the Coastal Migratory Pelagics panel. "They're positions are no way in jeopardy."
As part of a plea agreement, the captain of Fisher's vessel the Sundancer, James Michael-Milas Redden, 43, and his mate, James Evan Mooneyham, 48, were both adjudicated guilty on Jan. 6 of fishing in a sanctuary preservation area, and possession or harvesting of fish in a protected area, said Monroe County Assistant State Attorney Anna Hubicki.
County Judge Peary Fowler sentenced both men each to 30 days in county jail and ordered them to pay $1,000 in fines that will go to wildlife conservation funds. Both will also serve 12 months probation upon their release.
The $5,000 that came from the sale of the 1,556 pounds of mostly red grouper, assorted other groupers and snapper confiscated from the Sundancer will go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Hubicki said.
The Sundancer is a 38-foot boat homeported in Tarpon Springs.
Both charges are second-degree misdemeanors, each punishable by a maximum of up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines.
The men were fishing in a no-take, protected area just north of the Dry Tortugas National Park."



Do you think a recreational fisherman would have gotten a similar slap on the wrist for having 1500 lbs of illegally taken fish? I don't.

Martin Fisher should resign from the council.

Replies

  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Senior Member Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,784 Captain
    Thirty days in the slammer isn't a slap in the wrist for a fisheries violation.
  • notreelynotreely Senior Member JacksonvillePosts: 653 Officer
    Which council members boat is it?
  • notreelynotreely Senior Member JacksonvillePosts: 653 Officer
    Just read the article, Martin Fisher is not a council member. He is on an advisory panel. Advisory panels have no power they can only make suggestions and are only assembled to placate different user groups in a fishery. Much like the public comments they are useless. Council meetings are mostly a show anyway, the majority of the council decisions are made the day before the meeting and the meeting are used to justify their decisions.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Senior Member Ozello Fl.Posts: 13,084 AG
    m9000 wrote: »
    http://keysnews.com/node/52929

    "A Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council member and commercial fishing boat owner defended his crew members who were convicted last week for taking fish from one of the most protected areas in the Lower Keys."They absolutely will remain the subcontractors on my boat," said Martin Fisher, the chairman of two advisory panels with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council -- the Reef Fish Advisory Panel and the Coastal Migratory Pelagics panel. "They're positions are no way in jeopardy."
    As part of a plea agreement, the captain of Fisher's vessel the Sundancer, James Michael-Milas Redden, 43, and his mate, James Evan Mooneyham, 48, were both adjudicated guilty on Jan. 6 of fishing in a sanctuary preservation area, and possession or harvesting of fish in a protected area, said Monroe County Assistant State Attorney Anna Hubicki.
    County Judge Peary Fowler sentenced both men each to 30 days in county jail and ordered them to pay $1,000 in fines that will go to wildlife conservation funds. Both will also serve 12 months probation upon their release.
    The $5,000 that came from the sale of the 1,556 pounds of mostly red grouper, assorted other groupers and snapper confiscated from the Sundancer will go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Hubicki said.
    The Sundancer is a 38-foot boat homeported in Tarpon Springs.
    Both charges are second-degree misdemeanors, each punishable by a maximum of up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines.
    The men were fishing in a no-take, protected area just north of the Dry Tortugas National Park."



    Do you think a recreational fisherman would have gotten a similar slap on the wrist for having 1500 lbs of illegally taken fish? I don't.

    Martin Fisher should resign from the council.
    6k forfeited, 1k fines, 30 days in jail and 12 months probation.

    pill pushers get less than that and destroy more lives.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • surfmansurfman Senior Member WC FLPosts: 6,017 Admiral
    That's business as usual, it is included in the cost of doing business.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Senior Member Ozello Fl.Posts: 13,084 AG
    surfman wrote: »
    That's business as usual, it is included in the cost of doing business.
    No, it's not.
    Maybe that's how you would run a business, but you wouldn't be in business very long.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • beach_tradebeach_trade Senior Member Pohnpei, MicronesiaPosts: 2,040 Captain
    Give them a break, they were probably so high on meth they didn't know where they were..
  • m9000m9000 Senior Member Posts: 2,188 Captain
    ANUMBER1 wrote: »
    6k forfeited, 1k fines, 30 days in jail and 12 months probation.

    pill pushers get less than that and destroy more lives.

    The $6000 forfeited was the value of the illegally caught grouper – I don't think anybody gets to keep the fish after being caught with illegal fish, so the forfeiture was never really theirs.

    A $1000 fine for 1500 pounds of fish amounts to a 67 cent per pound fine. Considering the value of those fish at the dock, that fine looks low to me. What's the fine for a recreational fishermen caught with 1,500 lbs of illegal fish?

    30 days in jail may focus their attention for a short period time.

    I'm not a lawyer, but I believe all of these penalties fall short of the felony threshold. If these penalties do fall short of the felony threshold, then it's pretty much meaningless. If a recreational snorkeler took three legal lobsters out of a commercial trap (which I don't condone), wouldn't the lobster thief be facing felony charges?
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Senior Member Ozello Fl.Posts: 13,084 AG
    That would just be the criminal fines, with federal permits involved there will be civil fines accessed and/or a suspension of permit(s).

    Federal NOVA's usually start around 5k per violation and go up from there.
    I'd bet their NOVA will be 20k +.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Senior Member Ozello Fl.Posts: 13,084 AG
    Give them a break, they were probably so high on meth they didn't know where they were..
    Does that happen to you or your family often?
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Senior Member Ozello Fl.Posts: 13,084 AG
    m9000 wrote: »
    If a recreational snorkeler took three legal lobsters out of a commercial trap (which I don't condone), wouldn't the lobster thief be facing felony charges?
    As well they should.
    I'm not condoning the actions of the crew.


    You did read that even the possession of fish in that area is a violation, very possible that they didn't catch all their fish in the closed zone. I wasn't there and neither were you.

    I know many rec fishermen who catch grouper in federal waters when it's closed, then race back in and claim they caught them in open state waters.
    That ok with you?
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • m9000m9000 Senior Member Posts: 2,188 Captain
    ANUMBER1 wrote: »
    As well they should.
    I'm not condoning the actions of the crew.


    You did read that even the possession of fish in that area is a violation, very possible that they didn't catch all their fish in the closed zone. I wasn't there and neither were you.

    I know many rec fishermen who catch grouper in federal waters when it's closed, then race back in and claim they caught them in open state waters.
    That ok with you?

    You are absolutely correct – I was not there. I took my information from the Key West newspaper. If you have some issues with the accuracy of their report, I suggest a letter to the editor of the paper.

    I have heard that recreational fishermen are violating the grouper regulations, but not on my boat. I've had some unhappy guests on my boat when grouper and red snapper were released because they were out of season. I've never violated fishing regulations and don't tolerate violations on my boats.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Senior Member Ozello Fl.Posts: 13,084 AG
    and the rest of the story. People make mistakes.



    Fisher told The Citizen on Tuesday that neither man on his boat had any intention of breaking any laws, and that Capt. Redden was "100 percent certain they were in a legal area."

    Fisher added that he didn't know where the men were headed to fish on Oct. 16 when they were stopped by FWC officers aboard the 57-foot, high-speed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-owned catamaran Peter Gladding, which patrols the waters off the Lower Keys.

    Fisher didn't inquire specifically where the men would be fishing before they left because Redden has been a law-abiding fisherman in the past, he said.

    "Had I known, why would I risk political fallout?" Fisher asked. "It makes absolutely no common sense. First, I didn't know -- and they didn't know -- they would be in a closed zone, and second, it's not in his (Redden's) character. He's a good fisherman and always has been. He doesn't need to cheat."

    Redden has been running the Sundancer for 11 years and has never had any previous fishery infraction, Fisher said.

    In fact, Fisher and Redden have long taken FWC scientists out to do research aboard the Sundancer, Fisher said.

    "He (Redden) would never put that relationship he has with the FWC scientists in jeopardy -- not knowingly," Fisher said.

    The FWC law enforcement arm released a press release in October stating: "One of the reasons for this poaching venture is that they thought no one would be monitoring the federal Vessel Monitoring System due to the government shutdown. The two fishermen made no attempts to hide what they were doing as they had to think no one was watching."

    The Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is a real-time, satellite-based system used to monitor the movement and fishing activities of commercial fishing vessels. Satellite tracking equipment has been mandatory on commercial reef fishing boats in the Gulf of Mexico since 2005.

    "He (Redden) would have turned off the VMS, but he went directly there and fished there and didn't try to hide," Fisher said. "He thought he was in an open zone." Fisher said of the FWC release: "That's a total inference on the part of FWC law enforcement. Neither said anything of the sort."

    Part of the problem is that fishermen are continually confused by fishery rules and that the Gulf Council's own handbook outlining no-take areas needs to be updated, Fisher said. In fact, he said he's currently working on updating the handbook to protect fishermen against future incidents.

    "The point of the matter is that it's so confusing that even the (Gulf Council's) own handbook had incorrect information," pertaining to specific no-take area locations, Fisher said.

    Who makes the rules?

    The Gulf Council is one of four separate bodies that governs Florida Keys fisheries, the others being the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the FWC and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

    Not all of those agencies have consistent rules, and consistency in rule marking has become a sore point in the Keys as well as South Florida. To address those inconsistencies, federal fishery managers are considering coming regulations specific to South Florida.

    Redden and Mooneyham were fishing in a part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary called the Tortugas North Ecological Reserve, which, as its name implies, lies just to the north of Dry Tortugas National Park.

    The South Ecological Reserve, on the other hand, includes the area known as Riley's Hump. Neither man was in that area, according to reports. Both and the north and south no-take areas are known collectively as the Tortugas Ecological Reserve.

    Why it's no-take

    A NOAA research report released in February 2013 found that the no-take zone in the Dry Tortugas benefited the fish and did not cause the economic hardship on fishermen that was initially expected when the area was set aside in 2001 following a nearly yearlong series of workshops seeking public input. The reserve area collectively is 151 square nautical miles.

    Fishermen feared the closing of the area, which is a known snapper and grouper spawning area, would have a negative economic impact on commercial fishing in the Keys. The report shows that fishermen were not economically impacted by the closure.

    The report, "An Integrated Biogeographic Assessment of Reef Fish Populations and Fisheries in Dry Tortugas: Effects of No-Take Reserves," is the first study designed to evaluate how the Tortugas Ecological Reserve impacts the living marine resources of the region and the people whose livelihoods are connected to them.

    Researchers looked at the log books of commercial and for-hire sportfishermen for five years before and five years after the area was set aside.

    Once the reserve was closed, fishermen were able to find other viable fishing spots in the Dry Tortugas, the study states.

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    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • m9000m9000 Senior Member Posts: 2,188 Captain
    ANUMBER1 wrote: »
    and the rest of the story. People make mistakes.




    I don't see that your most recent posting adds any new information to the story. The boat owner is "shocked" that his captain was fishing in a prohibited zone. The captain has been running the boat for many years and one would think he would be familiar with the closed zones after fishing the area for over a decade.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Senior Member Ozello Fl.Posts: 13,084 AG
    m9000 wrote: »
    I don't see that your most recent posting adds any new information to the story. The boat owner is "shocked" that his captain was fishing in a prohibited zone. The captain has been running the boat for many years and one would think he would be familiar with the closed zones after fishing the area for over a decade.
    Bless your heart.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • beach_tradebeach_trade Senior Member Pohnpei, MicronesiaPosts: 2,040 Captain
    Ignorance of the law doesn't mean it's okay to break it.

    But again that may be asking too much from a couple of low IQ commies jonesin for their next hit.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Senior Member Ozello Fl.Posts: 13,084 AG
    Ignorance of the law doesn't mean it's okay to break it.

    But again that may be asking too much from a couple of low IQ commies jonesin for their next hit.
    You never fail to hit that low...
    It must suck to be so miserable... God bless you.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • surfmansurfman Senior Member WC FLPosts: 6,017 Admiral
    Yes, if I did something like that I would be out of business, deservedly so, lucky for me I would never do anything like that but, like my good buddy Gill Netter would say, ‘hey, you are only breaking the law if you get caught!’

    For the record I believe the guys story although I can’t imagine him say “aw heck, we got caught” the laws are much stricter and the penalties much more severe these days for resource violators on both sides, rec and comm. We have worked hard over the years with our legislators and regulators to make that happen, hopefully gone are the days of the proverbial slap on the wrist for people looking for an easy dollar at everyone else’s expense, at least when it comes to our fisheries, now about welfare, too many government workers and that number is growing so that will eventually take us all down.

    I shoulda got a government job.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • Last ChanceLast Chance Senior Member Homosassa FlPosts: 116 Officer
    Steve,
    you don't want a government job. Just look at me, turned my hair grey and made a lot fall out.

    I saw in a post that said Martin Fisher was not a Gulf Council member. They were wrong he is a member of the Council and also Chairmen of several of the Advisory Panels. He has been a very fair member to both the recreational and commercial sector. I know he never would have let his boat into the closed area if he knew it.
  • m9000m9000 Senior Member Posts: 2,188 Captain
    "Fisher told The Citizen on Tuesday that neither man on his boat had any intention of breaking any laws, and that Capt. Redden was "100 percent certain they were in a legal area."

    Well that certainly makes it all better. There was no intent to break the rules and they were sure they where in a legal zone. I think i'll try that defense - "But officer I had no intent to violate the law and I am sure this is a 70 mph zone and not a 15 mph zone."


    It was a "coincidence" that they were in the prohibited zone during a federal government shut when some would say they could expect enforcement to be lax.
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