On Sept. 1, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officer arrested three individuals for allegedly taking spiny lobster out of commercial traps in Marathon. Felix L. Malave, 54, of Marathon; Matthew W. Clockel, 35, of Marathon; and Ashley E. Smith, 36, of Marathon were arrested on four felony and eight misdemeanor counts for violation of Florida law related to spiny lobster.
While on patrol in Marathon, the officer received a tip that several individuals were jumping into the water with lobster equipment near commercial lobster traps. When he arrived on scene, he saw a vessel matching the description anchored within 400 feet of six commercial lobster traps, an FWC release said. The officer conducted a resource inspection and found 20 spiny lobsters on the vessel, two over the bag limit of six per person. Seven were under the legal-size limit.
None of the three individuals admitted to taking lobster from the traps. However, examination of the traps closest to the anchored vessel allegedly revealed clear signs of being tampered with. The owner of the traps confirmed that he had not inspected them in over a week. Malave, Clockel and Smith were arrested and taken to jail.
More information on Florida’s spiny lobster regulations is at MyFWC.com/fishing/saltwater/commercial/spiny-lobster.