An Opa-locka fisherman who pleaded guilty to charges of taking lobster traps in Biscayne Bay has been sentenced to 18 months in state prison, according to the Miami-Dade state’s attorney’s office.
Israel Torres, 42, also must serve three years of probation, during which he may not harvest any fish or lobster, according to the sentence handed down this week by Circuit Judge Robert Luck.
Torres was arrested in January along with his father, 62-year-old Eloy Torres, also of Opa-locka, by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers patrolling Biscayne Bay at night. The case against Eloy Torres is pending.
FWC officers came across the men in a boat with no lights about 2 ½ miles west of No Name Harbor and said they saw them dumping lobster overboard.
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One of the officers retrieved the submerged seafood and discovered more than 100 undersize tails. The boat reportedly was floating over a lobster trap line with a grappling hook on board that is commonly used to retrieve traps. Neither man had a commercial lobster license nor a measuring device.
Assistant state attorney Warren Eth filed 28 counts each against the men, including three felonies.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a prepared statement: “Resource offenses against wildlife are criminal violations that threaten the health of our native species, Florida’s economy and threaten ecosystems. Everyone in the community is a victim when individuals believe the rules don’t apply to them.”