MARATHON, Fla. – A Marathon man was arrested early Wednesday, on the first day of Florida's two-day lobster mini season.
Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin said Nicolas Moreira, 78, who works as a fisherman, was arrested after he was caught making multiple trips out on the water to bully net for lobster.
Herrin said two deputies were on patrol in Marathon keeping an eye out for violators during the beginning hours of the sport lobster season.
She said the deputies were conducting resource violation checks at the 33rd Street boat ramp at 2:30 a.m. when they were alerted about a man making multiple trips to land with lobster from his boat, which was located off the gulf side at the north end of Marathon.
Herrin said the deputies could see the boat from shore and watched Moreira as he made several trips to shore with lobsters.
Deputies and an officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission eventually stopped Moreira and asked how may lobsters he had.
Herrin said Moreira claimed that he had just one.
She said he indeed had one undersized lobster in his boat at the time, but said authorities then checked the trap they had seen him placing lobsters in and found 32 more live lobsters.
The lobsters were measured and returned to the water.
Moreira faces charges of possession of one undersized lobster and possession of over-the-limit lobster.
Authorities throughout South Florida will be posted up on the water and land Wednesday and Thursday searching for anyone who is violating rules of the mini season or for anyone in distress.
So far, there have been no fatalities.
Last year, a 60-year-old man died while diving for lobster off Cudjoe Key.
That is why Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue officials said they are patrolling offshore, listening to the emergency channel for distress calls.
Officials said a big problem is that some divers have not been in the water for a long time and make mistakes during the excitement of the hunt.
Monroe County sheriff's deputies said there have been a few medical calls Wednesday related to the sport season, including a call just before 9 a.m. about a diver who was brought to a boat ramp at Veteran's Park after he began having difficultly breathing.
Authorities said it's unknown whether he was taken to a hospital.
Deputies and rescue unites also responded to a call at 1:20 p.m. about a 16-year-old girl who was climbing off a boat after one of her fingers was severed.
The call came from Port Antigua on Lower Matecumbe.
Authorities said the girl was taken to Mariner's Hospital.