ISLAMORADA, Fla. – A Texas man landed in jail when police in the Florida Keys caught him poaching lobsters one day before the start of spiny lobster miniseason.
The annual lobster miniseason began Wednesday morning and runs through Thursday night, while the regular 8-month commercial season begins on Aug. 6.
Yuliver Rodriguez-Tejeda, 43, got a head start on Tuesday and was arrested on 14 counts of possession of out-of-season lobsters, 14 counts of possession of wrung lobster tails on the water, 10 counts of possession of undersized lobster, possessing over-the-bag limit lobsters, and tampering with evidence, Monroe County Sheriff's spokesman Adam Linhardt said in a news release.
The mini-season typically draws thousands of people to hunt for their bag limit of spiny lobsters.
According to the sheriff's office, a marine deputy was on patrol at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Islamorada when he saw two snorkelers and a boat. The deputy said Rodriguez-Tejeda was snorkeling off a boat with another man while a third man on a personal watercraft was making trips from their spot to land with a bag.
The deputy stopped the boat and said Rodriguez-Tejeda dumped lobster tails into the water from his dive bag, the report said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrived and removed the 14 illegal lobster tails from the shallow water where the deputy said he watched Rodriguez-Tejeda toss them.
The personal watercraft operator picked up the other snorkeler and took him to shore, police said.
Linhardt said more arrests and charges may be pending. It was not immediately known whether Rodriguez-Tejeda has retained a lawyer.