Fish council member defends crew

A Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council member and commercial fishing boat owner defended his crew members who were convicted last week for taking fish from one of the most protected areas in the Lower Keys.
 
“They absolutely will remain the subcontractors on my boat,” said Martin Fisher, the chairman of two advisory panels with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council — the Reef Fish Advisory Panel and the Coastal Migratory Pelagics panel. “They’re positions are no way in jeopardy.”
 
As part of a plea agreement, the captain of Fisher’s vessel the Sundancer, James Michael-Milas Redden, 43, and his mate, James Evan Mooneyham, 48, were both adjudicated guilty on Jan. 6 of fishing in a sanctuary preservation area, and possession or harvesting of fish in a protected area, said Monroe County Assistant State Attorney Anna Hubicki.
 
County Judge Peary Fowler sentenced both men each to 30 days in county jail and ordered them to pay $1,000 in fines that will go to wildlife conservation funds. Both will also serve 12 months probation upon their release.
 
The $5,000 that came from the sale of the 1,556 pounds of mostly red grouper, assorted other groupers and snapper confiscated from the Sundancer will go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Hubicki said.
 
The Sundancer is a 38-foot boat homeported in Tarpon Springs.
 
Both charges are second-degree misdemeanors, each punishable by a maximum of up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines. 
 
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