EVERGLADES CITY, Fla — A Florida boater has been charged for harvesting thousands of Florida pompano over the allowable limit outside of the fishing zone in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stopped a 48-foot boat just over 5 miles south of the endorsement zone to legally harvest pompano, according to a news release Monday.
They quickly discovered that the boat's captain, 52-year-old Ronald Birren of Hernando Beach, had a gill net with a huge amount of pompano in the net that looked to be over the legal harvestable limit, the FWC said.
Officers immediately began a fisheries inspection and noticed the boat had well over the allowable bycatch limit of 100 pompanos outside of the endorsement zone. Boaters who harvest pompano with entangling nets may not exceed 100 Florida pompano, FWC says.
After a deeper investigation, FWC officers counted a total of 2,711 pompanos caught in the netting, weighing just under 4,000 pounds.
In addition to the massive catch, 76 of the pompano measured less than the minimum of 11 inches to the fork to be caught and kept.
Birren was cited for possession of over the allowable gill net bycatch for pompano outside of the endorsement zone and possession of 76 undersized pompanos.
Boaters are able to harvest pompano year-round with a saltwater products license, however, there are guidelines to catching pompano for those with or without pompano endorsement.