Three Tampa Bay area men face charges of having 574 pompano and a monofilament gill net, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Early Oct. 8, the fishermen pulled into the Safety Harbor boat ramp with their catch, hitched the boat to a pickup and started to leave, the FWC said. Agency officers then arrested them.
All three face charges of simultaneous possession of an unmarked monofilament entanglement net and the pompano, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
Gill nets catch the target fish but also other species such as trout and snook that die after getting caught in the net, according to Baryl Martin, FWC officer. "They wind up getting their head through, but then can't back up."
The suspects are:
Davidson and Frazier were released on $5,000 bond, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Eldridge was freed on $6,513 bond.
Additional charges might follow after the state investigation, the FWC said.
Anyone can report violations of fish or wildlife laws by calling the Wildlife Alert Hotline, 1-888-404-3922, or text the information to Tip@MyFWC.com. Tipsters can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward.