Pair busted for illegal lobster minutes before the season starts

Trying to get a jump on lobster season ended in a felony arrest late Tuesday, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report says.

Brandon J. White, 19, of Little Torch Key was booked into the Monroe County jail on a felony count of fleeing from FWC officers after an 11:45 p.m. boat chase near Tarpon Belly Key, north of Cudjoe Key.

An FWC account says Officers Jason Richards and Oliver Adams were on patrol, looking for people harvesting lobster before the regular season opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Around 11 p.m. Tuesday, they reported seeing two men aboard a boat who were using a bully net to harvest "multiple lobster."

The officers turned on their patrol boat's flashing blue lights and issued verbal orders to stay put. The boat reportedly sped away and made "evasive maneuvers" while lobster were thrown overboard. Five lobster were on the boat when officers stopped it.

In addition to eluding arrest, White was charged with conservation counts, interfering with wildlife officers, failure to have a required boat decal and misdemeanor drug possession. White was released from custody Wednesday under a $13,000 bond.

The second defendant, an unnamed juvenile, was charged with misdemeanor conservation violations.