by Amber Nolan
On Monday, June 18, near South Sound Key, 11 shark fins and numerous dismembered sharks were discovered aboard the 40-foot commercial fishing vessel, Miss Shell. The vessel was joint-boarded by the the Coast Guard Station Islamorada, the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, and NOAA. The boat was located near Key Largo by the FWC and Coast Guard for improper display of navigation lights.
“This case is a great example of interagency coordination to stop illegal fishing and allows for efficient enforcement of the commercial fishing fleet in the waters surrounding the Florida Keys,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Rich Steidell, Coast Guard Station Islamorada. “Our marine resources are extremely valuable to the public and our nation. Boaters and fishermen are reminded to familiarize themselves with the fishing regulations to make sure they are complying with federal law.”
Since 2000, federal law prohibits the act of shark finning. The violations against the “Miss Shell” fishing boat operator include failure to maintain a shark in its proper form and failure to maintain naturally attached shark fins through off-loading.
The species of shark is currently undetermined, but fins will be sent to a laboratory for testing and could lead to further charges. NOAA is continuing to investigate the incident.