Florida Keys

A seafood market called Fishbusterz is busted over 123 undersized hogfish

This is the seafood counter at Fishbusterz.
This is the seafood counter at Fishbusterz.

A prominent Key West-area seafood market has been caught with 123 undersized hogfish in its stock, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The general manager of Fishbusterz, 6406 Maloney Ave. on Stock Island, was cited Monday for two alleged misdemeanors — undersized hogfish and not having a wholesale dealer license — after an anonymous complaint prompted FWC officers to investigate the market.

A voicemail message left for the Fishbusterz general manager wasn’t immediately returned

The FWC identified the market’s general manager as Bryant Jonathan Lewis Gantter of Summerland Key.

FWC Officer Martin Messier arrived to find employees filleting undersized hogfish beside an orange crate filled with 47 too-short fish.

“It was obvious,” said FWC Officer Bobby Dube, an agency spokesman. “The whole orange bin was nothing but undersized.”

Messier decided to investigate further.

“He went into the freezers and some other bind and found additional undersized fish, 123 total,” Dube said Tuesday.

Hogfish must measure at least 12 inches from the fork of the tail to the mouth to be harvested and state officials say the reef species is overfished in the Florida Keys and East Florida. New restrictions approved last year haven’t yet gone into effect.

Also, the FWC learned Fishbusterz did not have a wholesale dealer license.

FWC Officers John Martino and Glen Way were called to the seafood market to help with the count.

“When you’re measuring that much fish, it takes a few extra people,” Dube said.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen