CORTEZ, Fla. (FOX 13) - More than 100 pounds of undersized fish were seized from a commercial fishing vessel in Manatee County. The 39-red grouper were all shorter than 18-inches.
A couple of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers showed up unannounced to the docks at a local fish house back on December 20.
The pair waited for boats to come back with their catches for surprise inspections.
“When the vessel came back, they were unloading grouper and snapper. The officers measured the fish, they could tell some of them were undersized,” said FWC spokesperson Ashley Tyer.
Captain Michael Davis was caught with the 39 illegally harvested red grouper. FWC said fishermen on the boat should have thrown back all of the undersized fish.
“It is still their responsibility, it’s their livelihood, they’re supposed to be measuring each fish,” Tyer said.
FWC officials say when these regulations are ignored by either commercial or recreational anglers, it can have a big impact on the species.
“We have a whole institute that studies the behavior of the fish and they know what limits the fish can handle and how quickly they can bounce back,” said Tyer.
Davis was cited for violating commercial size limits, and the small fish were seized by officers. The illegal fish were donated to an organization in the Bay Area.