Two Miami residents were jailed Saturday for allegedly harvesting 40 live queen conch from waters off Islamorada.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says a tip texted to Deputy Nelson Sanchez just before 5 p.m. said a group of people came aboard the dock at the Islamorada Days Inn, mile marker 82.7 oceanside, with the protected mollusks. The text included a description of the truck they got into, agency spokeswoman Becky Herrin said.
Sanchez caught up with the truck as it was pulling out of the hotel parking lot and asked the driver and passengers if they had live conch. Herrin said the driver, George Galiszewski, 48, said he did. One of the passengers, 43-year-old Elena McGrane, admitted she helped harvest them, Herrin said.
Galiszewski and McGrane were charged with 20 counts each of possession of queen conch and booked into jail. Sanchez inspected the conch and found they were still alive. He photographed them for evidence and returned them to the water.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, "Possession of live queen conch (Strombus gigas) at any time is prohibited. It is not unlawful to possess queen conch shells in Florida as long as the shells do not contain any living queen conch at the time of collection, and so long as a living queen conch is not killed, mutilated or removed from its shell prior to collection. Possession of conch meat or a queen conch shell having an off-center hole larger than 1/16 inch in diameter through its spire is prohibited."