The owner of a 34-foot commercial fishing boat surrendered it to federal officials Monday after the captain was caught poaching nearly 300 spiny lobsters and stone crabs in Biscayne National Park last summer.
In August, a park marine patrol officer stopped the Silvita for a routine inspection and discovered 231 illegally wrung tails stashed in an anchor locker, along with more than two dozen egg-bearing or undersized lobsters, said park marine patrol spokesman Robert MacKavich. Another 22 out-of-season stone crab claws were hidden in a pair of fishing boots, he said. The officer also discovered an undersized mutton snapper and hogfish.
Under the federal Lacey Act, poaching lobster and other fish out of season can carry fines of up to $250,000 and five years in prison. Organizations can face up to $500,000 in fines.
Capt. Alfredo Sarinas Garcia pleaded guilty to two felonies and is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court next month.
Boat owner Deep Atlantic, Inc., agreed to forfeit the boat as part of a consent agreement.
Because of the government shutdown, MacKavich said it’s not clear what will be done with the boat. Park officials may decide to keep it or sell it, he said. Garcia has also been banned from commercial lobstering in the park and ordered to remove his traps.