Lobster miniseason ends with two deaths, two arrests and dozens of citations, officials say

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jul 30, 2021 6:29 PM

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In the span of the two-day lobster miniseason, two men died, one was hospitalized with a serious leg injury, two men were arrested and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued dozens of citations for those who failed to follow the rules.

In Monroe County, where the majority of spiny lobsters are captured during the season, the Sheriff’s Office reported on Friday a total of 384 vessel stops, two arrests and 18 mandatory notices to appear in court, which are issued in lieu of being arrested in Florida. A spokesperson from FWC said the number of arrests and citations may change in coming days as agencies finalize numbers.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said the number of boats stopped, arrests made and notices to appear in court issued were typical for a lobster miniseason. The vast majority of divers followed the rules.

As of Friday, two men were arrested for violating FWC’s rules of the season: lobsters measuring under the three-inch requirement and harvesting over the maximum of six lobsters per person in Monroe County and over 12 lobsters per person throughout the rest of the state.

Avery Kingman, 26, of North Bay Village, was arrested on the first day of the season after having five undersized lobsters and more than the daily bag limit, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said Friday morning. James Behar, 21, of West Palm Beach, was also arrested Wednesday after he dumped a bag of lobsters while diving, and a marine deputy found Behar’s bag containing 15 lobsters.

FWC reported issuing a total of 80 violations during the two days, with a total of 18 from Broward County, seven from Palm Beach County and 27 from Miami-Dade County. The violations included having too many or undersized lobsters, measuring lobsters out of the water, harvesting egg-bearing female lobsters and not having a measuring device in the water while harvesting, according to data FWC provided Friday afternoon.

Wednesday kicked off the season with a grim opening day when two men died.

In Broward County, John Chapman, 39, was diving to harvest with another man and a woman on a private 30-foot boat. Chapman went into cardiac arrest about 9:30 a.m. in approximately 25 feet of water off the Pompano Beach coast, a city spokesperson said. He later died at Broward Health North.

Emilio Gonzalo Perez, 35, of Sewall’s Point, Fla., began struggling in the water and lost consciousness as he was preparing to dive in the Lower Keys. He died at Lower Keys Medical Center.

Ricardo Maikel Rodriguez Leyva, 41, was hit by a boat propeller near Cudjoe Key and airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he remained Thursday.

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