Gillnet Arrests

From NBC-2

Three men were arrested and another is sought in connection with an illegal fishing operation discovered early Wednesday off the Charlotte County coast.

Arrested were Jeffrey "Bo" May, 38, and Eric McClain, 30, both from Punta Gorda and being held on no bond. Bradley Atkinson, 29, was also arrested and is from North Fort Myers. He is being held on $10,000 bond.

Deputies say once the suspects were spotted in Alligator Creek, it became a chase into Turtle Bay.

Former commercial fisherman "Fishin" Frank Hommema says he's not surprised to hear that.

"These chases are common and pretty dramatic. It would make most car chase scenes pretty dull," Hommema says.

Deputies found a net full of all kinds of fish. Nearly 30 bull sharks, 20 horseshoe crabs, pompano and more than 40 mullet among others.

"The amount of kill that comes with gill netting is incredible. It's unbelievable," said Cpl. Rolan Lytle, with the CCSO Marine Patrol.

Unfortunately, more than half the catch were killed due to the gillnets.

"If we can get to them in time, we can let the half the fish go. The other half die," Lytle said.

Gillnets are outlawed in Florida waters. They work by trapping fish in the nets by their gills.

Deputies identified the fourth man as 31-year-old Frank M. Williams. He may have jumped ship during the chase.

If you know anything, they ask you call the CCSO at (941) 639-2101 and ask for the marine patrol unit.


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