FWC Division of Law Enforcement Weekly Report June 15 – June 21, 2018

Bay County

Reserve Officer Cooper was conducting resource inspections of vessels returning from fishing in St. Andrews Bay prior to the beginning of the recreational red snapper season. During an inspection of one vessel, he found the vessel’s occupants to be in possession of undersized red snapper and undersized scamp. The captain of the vessel was issued a citation for possession of red snapper during closed season and warnings for undersized red snapper and undersized scamp.

Officer McMillion was contacted by Lt. Wass de Czege, who was off duty, about individuals at the Mexico Beach Canal that were in possession of gray triggerfish during the closed season. Officer McMillion located the individuals in possession of seven gray triggerfish during the closure. The captain of the vessel was issued a citation for the violation.

Officer McMillion was conducting resource inspections at the Mexico Beach Canal boat ramp when he saw a vessel with several individuals on board returning from a day of fishing. While he was conducting a resource inspection of the vessel the occupants stated that they had caught snapper and grouper. During the inspection, Officer McMillion located the snapper and grouper along with bags of ice. Once he moved the bags of ice, he located a gray triggerfish. The captain was issued a citation for possession of gray triggerfish during closed season.

Officer Basford was conducting resource inspections at the Mexico Beach Canal boat ramp when he saw a vessel with five people on board returning from fishing. He conducted a resource inspection of the vessel and found the individuals to be in possession of 14 red snapper; four fish over what they could legally possess. The captain of the vessel took responsibility for the violation and was issued a citation for over the bag limit of red snapper.

Officers Brady, Rice, Alsobrooks and Scott conducted an off-shore patrol in federal waters of the Madison-Swanson. The Madison-Swanson is closed to reef fishing. During their patrol, the officers located several vessels that were actively bottom fishing. The captain of each vessel was issued a federal citation for harvesting reef fish in the closed area. Additionally, during the inspections of the vessels, one vessel was found to be in possession of gray triggerfish. The captain of this vessel was also issued a citation for possession of gray triggerfish during closed season.

Reserve Officer Cooper was conducting resource inspections of vessels returning from fishing in St. Andrews Bay. During an inspection of one vessel, he located a bag containing two fish fillets. The fillets were determined to be from a gag grouper, possibly undersized. The captain of the vessel was issued a citation for failure to land reef fish in whole condition.

Officer Palmer was conducting resource inspections at St. Andrews State Park boat ramp of vessels returning from fishing. During a resource inspection of one vessel, he found the occupants to be in possession of an undersized gag grouper and an undersized red snapper. The captain of the vessel was issued a citation for possession of undersized gag grouper and a warning for possession of undersized red snapper.

Officer Basford and Reserve Officer Cooper responded to a single vessel boating accident in Upper Grand Lagoon on Panama City Beach. During the investigation, the officers noticed that the vessel operator was showing signs of impairment. The operator was put through standardized field sobriety tasks and placed under arrest for BUI. Once back at the Panama City Beach Field Office, the operator provided breath samples of .235 and .239 and was booked into the Bay County Jail for BUI.

Officer Basford and Reserve Officer Cooper conducted a resource inspection of a commercial charter vessel in Grand Lagoon. During the inspection they found five people on board: the captain of the vessel, a deck hand and three paying customers. While inspecting the catch, the officers found two whole gray triggerfish, four gray triggerfish fillets and seven red snapper. One of the red snapper was found to be undersized and with three paying customers they could only possess six red snapper. The captain of the vessel was issued citations for possession of gray triggerfish during closed season and possession of undersized red snapper. He was also issued warnings for failure to land gray triggerfish in whole condition and over the bag limit of red snapper.

Escambia County

Officers Allgood and Manning conducted offshore saltwater fisheries patrol and issued several notice to appear citations for federal and state violations. The charges include undersized red snapper, undersized gag grouper, possession of trigger fish during a closed season and possession of stone crabs during a closed season.

Officer Allgood performed a fisheries inspection on an individual fishing quota (IFQ) vessel as it returned to the dock in Pensacola to offload their catch. One of the subjects on board had a warrant for driving while his license was suspended. Officer Allgood arrested and transported the subject to the Escambia County Jail.

Federal Waters

More than 20 officers participated in targeted enforcement of reef fish violations in Gulf waters south of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. Multiple vessels from FWC’s Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) program in conjunction with aviation support checked nearly 300 subjects in state and federal waters. The enforcement effort resulted in 17 federal citations, three state citations and 19 resource warnings. Charges included undersized red snapper, undersized cobia, undersized greater amberjack, possession of gray triggerfish during closed season, undersized vermillion snapper and other reef fish species, along with charter fishing without a federal reef fish permit.

Okaloosa County

Investigator Molnar and Officer Corbin conducted a vessel stop at Crab Island on a personal watercraft (PWC) for a passenger not wearing a PDF. While speaking with the operator, he was showing multiple signs of impairment and the officers detected an odor of cannabis coming from the PWC. The operator admitted to consuming alcohol throughout the day and smoking cannabis about 30 minutes prior to the vessel stop. A search of the PWC revealed approximately five grams of unburnt cannabis. The operator agreed to perform field sobriety tasks. After the tasks, Investigator Molnar arrested the operator for BUI. The operator provided a breath sample of .018 and .020 blood alcohol content which was not consistent with the observations of the officers. The officers requested the operator to submit to a urine sample since drug impairment was suspected and the operator refused. He was booked into the Okaloosa County Jail for BUI with normal faculties impaired and possession of cannabis less than 20 grams. Officer Corbin issued a notice to appear citation to the passenger aboard for possession of cannabis less than 20 grams.

Officers Pifer and Long were on water patrol when they stopped a vessel in violation of the idle speed/no wake zone around Crab Island. The operator did not have identification on board and provided the officers with a name and date of birth. FWC dispatch advised they could not find a record of the individual with the information provided. The subject then provided a different middle initial and date of birth. Dispatch again advised that they could not find a record of the individual. The subject was given a final opportunity to provide his true information. He did and it was determined the subject had active warrants for his arrest in Alabama. The subject was placed under arrest and booked into the Okaloosa County Jail without incident.

Officer Corbin was on patrol when he recognized a subject operating a vehicle who had a suspended driver’s license. He confirmed the license was still suspended and conducted a traffic stop. The subject was asked to roll down his rear windows due to the dark tint and he complied. The officer then looked through the back window and saw a handgun laying on the floorboard underneath the driver’s seat. The handgun was removed and secured in the patrol vehicle. The serial number for the handgun was run through FWC dispatch, who advised the handgun was reported stolen. The subject and passenger were detained and gave consent for the vehicle to be searched. During the search, two vape pens containing THC oil and a partially smoked cannabis cigarette were located. Post Miranda, the subject admitted to knowing the handgun was stolen. Officer Corbin arrested the subject and charged him with dealing in stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, possession of cannabis less than 20 grams, and knowingly driving with a suspended license.

Officer Corbin was on patrol conducting resource inspections late at night when he saw a vessel with four subjects on board returning to the boat ramp. A resource inspection was conducted and a total of five redfish were located on the vessel, four of which were undersized. After interviewing everyone onboard, the subjects who caught the redfish were issued notice to appear citations for possession of over the bag limit and possession of undersized redfish.

Officers Corbin and Pifer were on patrol when Officer Corbin saw a derelict sailboat dragging anchor in the channel near a bridge. The officers tied off to the vessel and saw two dogs inside the vessel without food or water. The vessel was hip-towed to a nearby public dock and an attempt was made to locate the owner of the vessel. Animal control was notified and the owner of the vessel was located shortly thereafter. The owner did not have a title to the vessel but did claim ownership of it. The vessel did not have a means of propulsion, any working electrical or bilge, and was barnacle laden. Officer Corbin issued the owner of the vessel a notice to appear citation for derelict vessel stored on state waters and a uniform boating citation for interference with navigation.

Officer Corbin and Investigator Molar were on water patrol at Crab Island when they saw a vessel in violation of the idle speed/no wake zone. A vessel stop was conducted and the operator exhibited signs of impairment. After conducting field sobriety tasks, Officer Corbin placed the subject under arrest for BUI. The operator was cited for operating a vessel while normal faculties impaired and violation of the idle speed/no wake zone. The subject was also assessed a civil penalty for refusing to provide a breath sample.

Officers Bartlett and Pifer were on water patrol at Crab Island when they stopped a vessel for violation of the idle speed/no wake zone. While speaking with the operator of the vessel, signs of impairment were observed and the individual was asked to perform field sobriety tasks. Upon conclusion the operator was placed under arrest for BUI. The subject provided a breath sample of 0.164 and 0.153 blood alcohol content. He was booked into the Okaloosa County Jail and cited for operating a vessel with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher and issued a boating infraction for violation of the idle speed/no wake zone.

Officers Pifer and Bartlett responded to a report of a boating accident with injuries that occurred near the East Jetties in Destin. When the officers arrived on scene they determined that two personal watercraft rented from a nearby livery collided. An occupant on one of the personal watercraft suffered a leg injury and was transported to a local hospital. A follow up at the hospital with the injured party revealed they had suffered a broken leg due to the accident. After conducting the accident investigation, Officer Pifer issued the operator of the striking vessel a citation for violation of navigation rules resulting in an accident.

Several complaints over the past few months have been received regarding human waste being deposited in state waters at a marina. Officer Wilkenson organized a targeted enforcement detail in response to the complaints. The detail focused on inspecting vessels at the marina and ensuring the vessel owners followed marina sanitation laws. The officers working the detail inspected seven vessels and contacted 15 individuals. Two citations and five written warnings were issued for various violations. The officers also educated the marina owners on marine sanitation requirements so they can inform individuals renting wet slips of the regulations to prevent future violations.

Santa Rosa County

Officer Ramos was conducting patrol in a designated shorebird nesting site in Navarre where a colony of black skimmers were nesting. Black skimmers are a species of special concern and one of several imperiled shorebird species in the area. He saw the birds become visibly disturbed and flushed from their hatchlings when a subject ducked under the ropes and entered the closed area. Although the area was roped off and posted with multiple signs, the subject ignored the barricades and went down to the seawall where she began to fish. She was issued a notice to appear citation for the violation.

FWC’s dispatch received a Wildlife Alert complaint that various waste materials were disposed of in the Yellow River Wildlife Management Area. The complaint included the license plate for the vehicle and trailer involved. Officer Ramos and Environmental Investigator Hughes located a pile of waste debris on the south side of the management area. Using the tag number in the complaint they located the suspect. During an interview with the suspect he admitted to disposing of the waste materials. Investigator Hughes issued the defendant a criminal citation for disposing of solid waste at a nonpermitted location.

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