This month I bought a house in Panama City, FL so have been busy!
~ Enjoying the Journey ~
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Officer John Martino of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found a woman with 40 queen conchs illegally harvested in Key West on July 13, 2017. FWC
She said she didn’t know it was illegal to take conchs. She’s heading to jail anyway.
By Gwen Filosa
July 17, 2018 03:19 PM
A Texas woman will spend 15 days in jail as punishment for taking 40 queen conchs from the waters that surround Key West with a plan to clean them and give the shells away as gifts.
Diana Fiscal-Gonzalez, 30, of Dallas, pleaded no contest July 13 at the Monroe County Courthouse to taking the conchs. She apologized to Judge Mark Wilson, saying she didn’t know it was illegal to take the state-protected mollusks.
She had plucked the conchs from the sea with the help of several children.
Fiscal-Gonzalez received credit for one day of time served.
Wilson cut her a break by withholding adjudication, which means she won’t have a criminal conviction on her record.
Fiscal-Gonzalez will also serve six months of probation and pay a $500 fine plus $268 for court costs.
An officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrested Fiscal-Gonzalez on July 13, 2017, at 1216 Watson St. in Key West after an anonymous tipster called the agency about it.
FWC Officer John Martino said when he got to the house he saw a woman in plain view with three plastic containers and a water hose in the driveway. The conchs were in the containers.
After photographing the conchs, Martino returned them to the water. Most were still alive, FWC said.
The conch is a beloved symbol in Key West, with natives of the island calling themselves “conchs,” and the local high school has the mollusk as a mascot.
Fiscal-Gonzalez must report to court on Aug. 10 to begin her jail sentence.
A mission to save the queen conch
A team of researchers from Chicago's Shedd Aquarium set sail from Miami this month on a research effort with the Bahamian government to find better ways to protect and manage the nation's dwindling conchs.
The Florida FWC says people can legally collect seashells, but the shells can't contain a living organism. "It is not unlawful to possess queen conch shells in Florida as long as the shells do not contain any living queen conch at the time of collection, and so long as a living queen conch is not killed, mutilated, or removed from its shell prior to collection," the agency explains on its website.