On September 8th at 5 pm, FWC Officers Stallings and Diaz were patrolling on land on Card Sound Road just south of the Monroe/Dade County line.
Officers observed a commercial lobster vessel enter the canal. Officers found where the vessel was docking and observed two subjects from the brush. Officer Stallings heard two adult males talking and could see one of the subjects holding something in his hand. After a short time Officer Stallings walked from the bushes and stepped onto the bow of the vessel and identified himself.
Stallings immediately observed the mate, identified as Ovidio Chirino, at the back of the vessel throw a Caribbean Spiny Lobster off the back of the boat. Officer Stallings then yelled to him to stop throwing the lobsters into the water off the back of the vessel.
He observed a second subject, identified as Angel Garcia, the captain of the boat, reaching down into a compartment of the vessel. Officer Stallings also yelled for him to stop and remove his hands from the compartment. Garcia finally complied and removed his hands and stepped to the back of the vessel.
Officer Stallings advised both men that he would be moving to the back of the vessel where they were located. As he started moving to the back of the vessel Officer Stallings witnessed Chirino dump a bucket containing multiple Caribbean Spiny Lobsters off the back and overboard into the water. Officer Stallings immediately placed Chirino under arrest for obstruction and handcuffed him. Afterwards, Officer Stallings examined the area where Chirino threw the lobsters and observed approximately seven Caribbean Spiny lobsters and some wrung lobster tails in approximately 4 feet of water on top of the seagrass.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Department (MCSO) Deputy McCarthy arrived on scene to assist and provide back-up. FWC Officer Diaz grabbed her snorkeling gear and entered the water and retrieved 7 Whole Caribbean Spiny Lobsters and 7 wrung lobster tails that were found lying on the bottom of the sea floor next to the subjects vessel.
Officer Stallings questioned both subjects and Chirino admitted that he was the person responsible for the wrung tails and all the other illegal lobsters. Officers Diaz measured the lobsters that she retrieved from the water and all of them measured less than the legally required minimum size limit of greater than a 3-inch carapace. Officer Diaz and Stallings then measured the 7 wrung Caribbean Spiny Lobster tails. All 7 tails measured less than the legally required size limit of greater the 5 ½ inches. Chirino was placed under arrest and transported to the Plantation Key Detention Facility for booking. Garcia, the captain of the vessel, received boating citations for various boating safety violations.