NOAA Levies $112,000 in Penalties for Tortugas Reserve Violations
Cheva.Heck at noaa.gov
Mon Mar 18 15:23:00 EST 2002
For Immediate Release: March 14, 2002
Contact: Cheva Heck
Public Affairs Officer
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
NOAA Levies $112,000 in Penalties for First Tortugas Ecological Reserve
Key West, Florida National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
attorneys have issued citations totaling $112,000 in the first eight cases
against vessels charged with poaching in the highly protected waters of the
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuarys Tortugas Ecological Reserve.
We hope the substantial penalties in these cases send the message that NOAA
will not stand by while an unscrupulous few raid the waters of the Tortugas
Ecological Reserve, said Sanctuary Superintendent Billy Causey. We thank
our partners, the United States Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission, for their assistance in ensuring that
law-abiding citizens will see the reserves benefits become a reality.
Three of the eight cases involve shrimp boats observed by a United States
Coast Guard cutter in the Tortugas North section of the reserve on January
®A $20,000 citation was issued against Donald Tomko, operator, and G.F.
Partnership, owner, of the Fishing Vessel (F/V) Green Flash of Ft. Myers,
Florida. In addition, 1,773 lbs. of shrimp were seized and sold.
®A $20,000 citation was issued against Paul Mendres, operator, and
Perseverance I LLC, owner, of the F/V Perseverance I of Ft. Myers, FL. In
addition, 2,503 lbs. of shrimp were seized and sold. The Green Flash and the
Perseverance I share the same owners, operating under different corporate
® A $12,000 citation was issued against Son Truong Vo, operator, and Nhan
Tran, owner, of the F/V Daylight II of Bayou La Batre, Alabama. In addition,
1,062 lbs. of shrimp were seized and sold.
A fourth Coast Guard case made on January 24, 2002 in Tortugas North
resulted in a $12,000 citation against Paul Van Thai, owner/operator of the
F/V Mayflower of DIberville, Mississippi. In addition, 5,207 lbs. of shrimp
were seized and sold.
On February 1, 2002, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
officers made cases against two vessels fishing for reef fish (such as
snapper and grouper) in Tortugas North:
® A $12,000 citation was issued against Ernesto Oliver, operator, and Elio
Quesada, owner of the F/V 3 Hermanos of Key West, Florida. In addition,
1,123 lbs. of mixed reef fish were seized and sold.
® A $12,000 citation was issued against Roberto Rojas, Jr., owner/operator
of the F/V El Cheve of Key West, Florida. In addition, 1,047 lbs. of mixed
reef fish were seized and sold.
NOAA attorneys charged all six vessels with fishing in Tortugas North,
entering Tortugas North without a permit and anchoring in Tortugas North
without a permit.
FWC officers made two additional cases on January 26, 2002 in the Tortugas
South section of the reserve.
® A $12,000 citation was issued against Jose L. Miranda Corrales, operator,
and Pablo and Pedro Rioseco, owners, of the F/V Francisco of Key West,
Florida. In addition, the vessel abandoned 33 lbs. of yellowtail snapper.
® A $12,000 citation was issued against Horacio Gonzalez, owner/operator of
the F/V El Sol of Key West, Florida. In addition, the vessel abandoned 239
lbs. of mixed reef fish.
NOAA attorneys charged the two vessels with fishing in Tortugas South,
entering Tortugas South and failing to maintain continuous transit, and
anchoring in Tortugas South.
The Tortugas reserve was established through a collaborative process in
which commercial fishermen played a major role. The commercial fishing
industry has had plenty of time to learn about the regulations, said NOAA
attorney Robin Jung. These cases should serve as a warning. In the future,
penalties will most likely be even higher.
Regulations in the federal waters of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve took
effect March 8, 2001, and rules in state waters followed on July 1, 2001.
The entire reserve is closed to fishing and anchoring. Vessels may enter
Tortugas North via a free, no-paperwork access permit. Visitors may dive in
Tortugas North, and mooring boys are available.
Vessels may enter Tortugas South only if they maintain continuous transit
through the area with fishing gear stowed. Diving and snorkeling are
prohibited. For more information on the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, visit
the Sanctuarys web site at http://www.fknms.nos.noaa.gov or call
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