KEY WEST, Fla. — A South Florida man faces multiple misdemeanor counts after Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers found him in possession of 67 lobster tails illegally caught in the Florida Keys.
FWC said officers were on patrol Dec. 27 at Fishbusterz fish house located on Stock Island in Monroe County when they stopped a commercial lobster vessel after it docked.
The operator, later identified as Yoanky Hernandez, 38, of Hialeah was the only person aboard the vessel.
The officers said they boarded the ship to conduct an inspection and noticed three undersized lobsters lying on the deck.
Hernandez told them he forgot to throw them back into the water before reaching the dock, but all undersized lobster must be returned to the water before the commercial vessel lands, per state law.
FWC later found a bag on the boat that contained 78 wrung lobster tails -- 67 of them were undersized.
Officials said the lobster tails were hidden in a hatch toward the front of the vessel. The tails were found in a large black garbage bag that wrapped in slickers.
Hernandez was placed under arrest and told FWC he did not intend to sell the lobster tails. However, he was having a party and was going to give them to his family.
FWC said Hernandez was also issued a boating citation for not having registration on board the vessel.
Investigators said the 78 wrung lobster tails, along with nine stone crab claws, were confiscated and logged into a temporary evidence freezer bin.