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FWC OFFICERS ARREST TWO IN HUGE ILLEGAL FISHING OPERATION
December 11, 2003
Contact: Gary Morse (863) 648-3206

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers arrested two commercial fishermen in the largest illegal inshore fisheries case ever made in Lee and Charlotte counties. FWC officers seized over 5,000 pounds of illegally caught mullet and 900 yards of gill net from a lagoon on the gulf side of Cayo Costa Island about 9 p.m. Tuesday evening. One of the commercial fishermen arrested is a habitual offender of the state’s constitutional ban on the use of entanglement nets in state waters and other fisheries-related offenses.

Allen McClenithan, 32, of 11569 Island Ave., Matlacha, was charged with the commercial harvest of mullet while his Saltwater Product License (SPL) was revoked, a third-degree felony; the illegal use of gill net; and simultaneous possession of an entanglement net and mullet, both second-degree misdemeanors.

A second man, Nelson W. Waddell, 22, of 4553 Pine Island Rd., Matlacha, was charged with the illegal use of a gill net, simultaneous possession of entanglement net and mullet and failure to posses a SPL, all second-degree misdemeanors.

A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. A second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

In October, McClenithan and four other Lee County residents were charged with scheming to defraud the state through the illegal sale of $100,000 worth of saltwater products with a suspended license, a first-degree felony. He was arrested and convicted in Manatee County in September 2001 for activities requiring an SPL. On June 26, 2003, McClenithan was again caught and arrested by FWC officers for net-transit violations. That case is pending.

“Allen McClenithan continues to snub his nose at the citizens of the state by violating the constitutional restrictions on the use of entanglement nets in state waters. His habitual abuse of state resources hasn’t been deterred by the lifetime suspension of his fishing privileges or the threat of a possible 15-year prison sentence,” said Lt. Mitts Mravic, law enforcement supervisor.

FWC officers were conducting a detail targeting illegal commercial fishing operations in the Matlacha and Cayo Costa areas on Tuesday evening. Officer Seth Montgomery was dropped off on a beach on Cayo Costa where he set up surveillance. Montgomery observed vessels in the area that appeared to be involved in commercial fishing operations and called for help. Officer Lar Gregory attempted to stop and inspect the vessel with McClenithan and Waddell aboard. The two fishermen jumped from the vessel, galloped ashore, stripped off their fishing apparel and ran barefoot down the beach into Officer Montgomery, who promptly arrested them.

When FWC officers checked the vessel they found a large amount of mullet and a gill net still half deployed. The fish and gill net remaining in the water were so heavy that officers were forced to cut the net in half and place some of the net and fish in another boat. Attempts were made to sell the fish and find sufficient ice to keep the product cool, however the late hour made purchase of a sufficient quantity of ice impossible. No bids were received for the fish. The quantity of fish also made it impossible to give the product to charitable ventures. Hendry County Solid Waste Department aided in the disposal of the fish. It took officers approximately 17 hours to recover and dispose of the illegal catch.

The boat used by McClenithan and Waddell was owned by Tyrone B. Jackson, a local commercial fisherman. Jackson has not been charged in the case.

For more information on wildlife and fisheries visit the FWC’s Web site at http://www.floridaconservation.org or contact the Southwest Regional office at (863) 648-3206.
 

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Yeah glad they are lookin out for that kind of stuff. I am sure it happens o to often.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I thought you would respond Jighead , once I saw it was in your neck of the woods .:D
 
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