Suspects arrested in gill netting case involving the netting of juvenile bottlenose dolphin and multiple fish species
On July 31, officers and investigators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement Tampa Field Office concluded an investigation near Gandy Beach in Pinellas County that resulted in the arrest of two suspects, Yunior C. Rosales Morales, 30, of Tampa and Yandie Concepcion, 34, of Tampa, for the unlawful use of a monofilament entanglement net (gill net) to take several species of fish and a juvenile bottlenose dolphin. The combined size of the three gill nets in possession of the suspects measured 3,125 square feet. The two suspects were arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail on the following charges:
- Felony - illegal use of gill net
- Felony - failure to transit gill net
- Felony - possession of gill net on vessel less than 22-foot
- Misdemeanor - stop netting
- Seven misdemeanors - snook out of season
- Seven misdemeanors - llegal method of take for snook
- Six misdemeanors - undersize snook
- Three misdemeanors - redfish out of season
- Misdemeanor - oversize redfish
- Misdemeanor - over the bag limit of bonnet head sharks
- Misdemeanor - illegal method of take for shark
- Misdemeanor - major violation pertaining to snook and redfish
The maximum penalty for each third-degree felony charge is five years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine, and each second-degree misdemeanor holds a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
In addition to the state violations, a dependent bottlenose dolphin calf was also caught in the gill net. Bottlenose dolphins are federally protected and the FWC is working closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on this finding.
This case was the result of a combination of proactive law enforcement work and surveillance, as well as anonymous tips received through the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline.
“Our officers work hard to protect Florida’s precious natural resources and egregious violations such as these are reminders of why our work is so important,” said SW Regional Commander, Maj. Roger Young. “The use of this type of fishing gear is not only illegal but it is harmful to fish and wildlife by indiscriminately killing much of the fish and wildlife that become entangled in it.”
The gear and vessel used in the commission of these activities were seized by the FWC.
What are gill nets?
Gill nets are any net constructed wholly 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 die. 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 that went into effect on July 1, 1995. All violations pertaining to gill nets in state waters constitute a felony of the third degree.