pompano nets

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has charged a vessel captain with the unlawful use of a monofilament entanglement net (gill net) to take pompano outside of the Pompano Endorsement Zone in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Officers with the FWC’s Offshore Patrol Vessel Program stopped a 48-foot commercial vessel, named Legacy, approximately 5.5 nautical miles south of the endorsement zone.

The vessel’s captain was in possession of a gill net with a substantial amount of pompano in the net and on the deck of the vessel. Officers began a fisheries inspection and quickly realized the vessel possessed well over the allowable bycatch limit of 100 pompano outside of the endorsement zone.

Officers escorted the vessel back to Everglades City for further inspection and discovered a total of 2,711 pompano on board, weighing just under 4,000 pounds. In addition, 76 of the pompano measured less than the minimum size of 11 inches to the fork.

“Our officers are dedicated to protecting fishery resources,” said Maj. Alberto Maza, FWC South Region B Commander. “Violations such as this one highlights the importance of the work that these men and women do every day.”

The vessel captain, Ronald Edward Birren, 52, of Hernando Beach, was cited for possession of over the allowable gill net bycatch for pompano outside of the endorsement zone and possession of 76 undersized pompano.

What are gill nets?

Gill nets are any net constructed entirely or partially of monofilament material other than a cast net or a landing dip net. They are typically vertical sections of net that are stretched out on a rope suspended by a float and typically work by “gilling” the fish and entangling them within the mesh. With the exception of very small fish that escape through the mesh, the majority of marine life that becomes entangled in the net dies. This type of net can be especially devastating for sea turtles and marine mammals.

Voters approved a Constitutional Amendment to ban these types of nets from Florida’s waters, which went into effect on July 1, 1995. All violations pertaining to gill nets in state waters constitute a felony of the third degree.

For more information about commercial pompano regulations, visit MyFWC.com/marine and click on “Commercial Regulations” and then “Pompano.”

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