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Stone Crab Trap Violation

uplandbirddoguplandbirddog Gulf StreamPosts: 63 Deckhand
SWIM recently got in some trouble for a stone crab trap around the Boynton Inlet and the situation is a bit odd, so I wanted to see everyone's take on it. He was only fishing one stone crab trap and made sure he was following every recreational law listed on FWC's website (https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/stone-crab/). The trap, location, markings, buoys, permit, everything was 100% legal. He went out to check my trap late April and it's gone. He continued to check around the area throughout the rest of April, May, and June with no luck. Right before the season ended he checked back on FWC's website to see if he had to report it lost/stolen or anything and couldn't find anywhere mandating he report it. He couldn't even find anything that mentioned he should or could report it if he wanted. All he found was the "Derelict Trap Retrieval and Debris Removal Programs" (https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/trap-debris/) which basically says if they find your trap you pay $10. His thought process was oh well, it was one $40 trap, I won't be here for future seasons since I'm moving in January, and if they find it worst case scenario I pay $10 and that's that. Then he gets a call from an FWC officer in early September saying they found his trap and they wanted to meet with him to discuss. He met with them having no idea he was going to get in trouble. Turns out they arrest him and charge him with a misdemeanor. The officer said traps are not allowed to be in the water for more than 5 days after the season and it's legally required to report it lost or stolen to FWC or the police. He checked everywhere on FWC's website and couldn't find either of those rules mentioned anywhere for recreational fishing. The only way he found the law was by googling the administrative code 68B-13.008(4)(d) and he found it on the Florida Administrative Code website https://www.flrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?title=STONE CRABS&ID=68B-13.008 . In the title of that document is the word "commercial" and you will not find the word "recreational" in that document anywhere. Since late April the trap was not in his custody, possession, or control. On top of this, on the citation the officer gave him it says the officer found the trap on July 2nd, but for some reason FWC waited over 2 months to contact and arrest him. Also, from where he was speaking to the officer he could see over a dozen traps, some of which he knows the owners of. He spoke to the owners after to see if they had been contacted by FWC and they had not and still have not. The officer would've had to pass all these traps in open water and go out of his way and almost beach his boat to get SWIM's trap. 

A few questions: If this is an offense serious enough to end up in an arrest, why would FWC not have it posted explicitly on their website? Why would the officer have waited over two months to contact him? He plans on fighting this in Palm Beach County court, do you think he has a decent chance of winning?

Any advice, tips, or anything anyone may have would be greatly appreciated. 

Replies

  • Jack HexterJack Hexter New Port RicheyPosts: 5,012 Moderator
    If he is going to fight this in court, I assume he has an attorney.  Ask the Attorney, not a lay fishing forum
  • uplandbirddoguplandbirddog Gulf StreamPosts: 63 Deckhand
    Yeah he has an attorney who thinks it should work out fine but obviously there's factors that make each case different. Mainly just wanted to hear if anyone had dealt with anything similar so I could relay the information. I imagine it's not super uncommon to lose or have a trap stolen and I still see a handful in the intracoastal whenever I go out, so I'm sure plenty of people have been cited for this before. 
  • bocapup1bocapup1 Posts: 1,183 Officer
  • conchydongconchydong Pompano BeachPosts: 7,045 Admiral
    If your story is 100% accurate then the LEO was a AH. One lost trap and they arrest him? Thugs looting and burning get off Scot free and they make a issue about this? God Bless America because we sure need it.

    “Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

  • cortrcortr Posts: 289 Deckhand
    Fish and Game officers normally use some discretion when violaters are cooperative, and the facts are obvious that there was nothing intentional.  A warning would have been appropriate, but as Conchydong stated, this LEO was definitely an AH.
  • CaptJCaptJ Posts: 1,146 Officer
    I was diving in shallow the other day and found a string of commercial traps that was abandoned. Stopped counting after 10. Guess he gets to slide because they haven't been found yet and the season opens soon.
  • drgibbydrgibby Posts: 1,538 Captain
    Will be awaiting the outcome of this one.............
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 11,693 AG
    I lose a couple hundred every year..
    Years past I have reported them but haven't in at least 10 years.
    Only been fined once when they found some of my traps up near St. Joe in a barge pile.
    $5 per trap and we are allowed 5 freebies per license.

    That being said, there is a form to report them and now that recs are required to have a (free) endorsement on their license, maybe enforcement has changed.
    I do know that in the last 15 years I have worked derelict trap removal for FWC the # of rec traps removed has increased every year, so it is a problem.
    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 Posts: 11,693 AG
    edited October 4 #10
    CaptJ said:
    I was diving in shallow the other day and found a string of commercial traps that was abandoned. Stopped counting after 10. Guess he gets to slide because they haven't been found yet and the season opens soon.
    should have gave leo the coords instead of making snarky comments on a fishing forum
    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.
  • CaptJCaptJ Posts: 1,146 Officer
    The fisherman could have easily found them himself if he looked. I actually did call it in and they're still there. I find traps all the time while snorkeling and diving in crystal clear water no more than 10 ft deep. They also abandon them with the floats still on and FWC just leaves them there. FWC is another story down here. Don't get me started.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 11,693 AG
    Where is down there?
    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.
  • CaptJCaptJ Posts: 1,146 Officer
  • Turner River TerrorTurner River Terror Posts: 8,002 Admiral
    The Keys are like the Bay Watch of L.E....
    Killin and Grillin :grin
  • Ron38SpecialRon38Special S FloridaPosts: 87 Deckhand
    It seems FWC is getting a useless as NOAA law Enforcement . NOAA couldn't make a case if they were on your boat when you violated the law.
    If you ever have the idea to report something egregious to NOAA, don't waste your time. Unless its a 40,000 lb container of illegal yellowfin tuna being shipped to the US, they simply do not have the experience and acumen to make a case.
  • uplandbirddoguplandbirddog Gulf StreamPosts: 63 Deckhand
    Prosecutor took one look at the case and agreed to drop it after SWIM makes a $100 donation to FWC. Too bad he still had to pay $2k for an attorney to prove this was a BS charge...
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