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FWC: Boat captain carved up tarpon he illegally caught

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Lt. Roy Payne and officers Jon Hettel and Matt Rubenstein show the illegally harvested tarpon.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Lt. Roy Payne and officers Jon Hettel and Matt Rubenstein show the illegally harvested tarpon.

A Stock Island boat captain was jailed without bond Wednesday after police say he took a tarpon out of the water during a fishing trip.

Itiel Garcia Hernandez, 29, admitted to harvesting the large tarpon and cutting it up, said Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Bobby Dube.

Hernandez on Thursday remained locked up at the Stock Island Detention Center facing four misdemeanor charges: No tarpon tag on tarpon, interference with FWC officers, destroying a tarpon unnecessarily within state waters and harvesting or possessing a tarpon without a tarpon tag.

About 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, FWC officers responded to a call of a large tarpon being harvested from a commercial dock on Stock Island’s Fisherman’s Fish House. They found five people on a boat that had just returned to the dock. They stated there was no tarpon, only yellowtail snapper on board their vessel.

But officers discovered several tarpon scales on the boat. Lt. Roy Payne entered the water with mask and fins to search for evidence that may have been discarded, Dube said.

Payne found a large pile of fish guts beneath the vessel while officers searched the boat and a transport truck waiting at the dock to collect the boat’s catch.

“Officers finally found a large tarpon carcass at the bottom of the truck’s cooler under the ice,” Dube said.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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