Two men charged with illegally spearing lobsters Saturday off the Lower Keys tried to discard their catch during a brief boat chase, state marine officers say.
Victor Garcia Blanco and Nelson De La Rosa, both 64, face multiple conservation counts in addition to charges of trying to elude Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers.
De La Rosa and Garcia Blanco remained in the Monroe County jail at press time Tuesday. De La Rosa faces a $27,000 bond and Garcia Blanco has a $10,000 bond. They reportedly live in Key West but without a permanent address.
They were arrested around 6:30 p.m. Saturday after a witness reported that two men aboard a gray skiff appeared to be spearing lobster at Waltz Key Basin, about three miles north of Big Coppitt Key.
When FWC officers approached the 13-foot skiff powered by a 25-horsepower outboard, Garcia Blanco tried to motor away from the patrol boats, officers reported. De La Rosa "started grabbing handfuls of wrung lobster tails and throwing them overboard," FWC Investigator John Brown said in his report.
The skiff was quickly overtaken and the two men apprehended and placed in handcuffs.
FWC officers counted 85 lobster tails on the boat and three whole lobster. All apparently had been speared and taken out of season. About three dozen lobster also were below the legal size limit. Officers also found 14 undersized snapper.
Garcia Blanco was charged with fleeing from officers, and De La Rosa was charged with resisting arrest by discarding evidence. Neither man had a saltwater fishing license, and the skiff was unregistered.