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Scores of boaters take to the water for lobster mini season

MIAMI – Wednesday morning kicked off the start of lobster mini season, which runs only through Thursday.

The Florida East Coast Railway bridge was down early Wednesday, causing frustration for boaters stuck in the New River boat traffic for hours.

Apparently many boaters thought the bridge opened at 5 a.m., but it actually opened at 7 a.m.

More divers are expected to take to the water north of Monroe County this year as leaders there decided to close all of its public boat ramps in the Upper Keys in an effort to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Miami-Dade Police Marine patrol will be enforcing the 10 p.m. county curfew on the water, with the exception of federal bodies of water like Biscayne National Park.

Most parks and boat ramps close at 8 p.m. No one will be allowed to put their boats in the water after then.

People can take their boats out of the water after 8 p.m. but have to be out in time to get back home by the 10 p.m. curfew.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, a Texas man was arrested Monday afternoon after he was caught poaching lobsters in Islamorada.

Yuliver Rodriguez-Tejeda, 43, of Houston, Texas, is accused of poaching lobsters in Islamorada.
Yuliver Rodriguez-Tejeda, 43, of Houston, Texas, is accused of poaching lobsters in Islamorada. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Yuliver Rodriguez-Tejeda, 43, of Houston, Texas, faces 14 counts of possession of out-of-season lobsters, 14 counts of possession of wrung lobster tails on the water, 10 counts of possession of undersized lobster, possessing over-the-bag-limit lobsters and tampering with evidence.

According to authorities, a marine deputy spotted two snorkelers and a boat at 2 p.m. bayside near Mile Marker 76.

The deputy reported that he also saw someone on a personal watercraft ride over to the snorkelers several times over the course of an hour to grab what appeared to be a bag that he would then take to land.

Lobster tails seized during Yuliver Rodriguez-Tejeda's arrest.
Lobster tails seized during Yuliver Rodriguez-Tejeda's arrest. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Authorities said the deputy stopped the boat and one of the snorkelers, later identified as Rodriguez-Tejeda, removed lobster tails from his dive skin and dumped them in the water.

Authorities said the person on the personal watercraft took the other snorkeler to shore and they both fled the area on foot and have not been found.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission retrieved 14 lobster tails from shallow water where the deputy saw the snorkeler dump them, authorities said.

Lobster mini season began at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and ends at midnight on Thursday. The regular lobster season runs from Aug. 6 through March 31.


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