Friday, July 25, 2008

Wakulla seafood sellers indicted reports that seven individuals have been indicted after a two-year investigation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service (NOAA), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the United States Attorney’s Office. The charges accuse the individuals illegally catching marine species in Florida, falsifying documents, mislabeling fish, and conspiring to transport a variety of marine fish illegally across state lines. Most of the charges involve alleged violations of the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378, which protects both plants and wildlife by creating civil and criminal penalties for a wide array of violations. For an overview, check out this link at Michigan State University Law School's Animal Legal & Historical Center.

From the article:
“This is one of the most far-reaching undercover operations on the northern Gulf Coast during the past 20 years,” said Capt. Leroy Alderson, FWC regional investigations supervisor. “Laws exist to protect marine resources, but the investigation showed pretty-blatant efforts to bypass those laws for profit.”
. . .
NOAA and FWC investigators say the total commercial value of the fish involved exceeded $200,000.

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