DAYTONA BEACH -- Two fishermen have been hit with $16,000 in penalties for alleged violation of federal rules on red snapper.
The penalties against Rudolph Dendekker, 53, of Deltona and Herbert Regan Jr., 55, of South Daytona stem from a January incident when officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boarded the boat "Mama's Money" in Ponce Inlet.
Wildlife commission Officer Clay McDonough found 35 whole snapper of assorted species and 128 fillets, which were confiscated. McDonough called Richard Chesler, a special agent with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, because the two agencies work together to prosecute federal fishing violations.
DNA tests on the fillets at the NOAA forensics laboratory in Charleston, S.C., revealed there were at least 25 red snapper, five mutton snapper and cobia. That resulted in violations for keeping undersized snapper and exceeding bag limits. The limit on red snapper in the Atlantic is two per person and the fish must be at least 20 inches long.
Dendekker, the boat's owner, and Regan, the boat operator, have 30 days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge, pay the fine or settle the case. Efforts to reach the fishermen by phone Tuesday were unsuccessful.
The fishermen also are being penalized for making false statements and interfering with, obstructing or delaying an investigation or search.
"It's pretty unusual for a case to rise to the point where (NOAA) gets involved," Chesler said. But state and federal officials have made several big cases on fishing violations recently, amid concerns by the agencies and environmental groups that fish populations are dwindling worldwide.
Chesler said the teamwork in this case helped stop poachers, "whose destructive practice of retaining undersized red snapper is a serious threat to the sustainability of this species off Central Florida."
Federal officials voted last week to take further steps to try to reduce the overfishing of snapper in the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, some fishermen have expressed concern that there may be a black market locally for snapper.