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Feds Cracking Down on Lobster Violations In the Florida Keys

The Miami Herald reports on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 that federal prosecutors have been fiercely cracking down against illegally harvested lobster. In 2009, a federal investigation dubbed Operation Freezer Burn resulted in the seizure of more than 2,000 pounds of lobster on Cudjoe Key and the arrests of six people, including ringleader David Dreifort, now serving time in federal prison. Under federal law, commercial lobster divers can harvest 250 lobster per day. However, amounts allegedly sold to a Stock Island man over the time period outlined in the indictment is more than double that amount.

That man, Scott Greager, has admitted that he bought and sold thousands of illegally harvested lobster in the most recent major federal fisheries case from the Lower Keys. Greager, the owner of a Key West business called Holiday Seafood, faced multiple federal counts of conspiring to purchase 5,435 pounds of lobster from two commercial divers over seven days at the opening of the regular lobster season in August 2008. As part of Greager's plea agreement, he will be sentenced to no more than 5 years in federal custody. Greager previously faced a sentence of 10 years.

Commercial fishermen reportedly support the recent actions to shut down illegal operations. The Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association has urged state and federal marine officers to actively pursue lobster poaching. Enforcement officers with the Florida Fish and the Wildlife Conservation Commision and National Marine Fisheries Service have reportedly responded.

If you are interested in seeing the entire Miami Herald article or wish to reach me to discuss this case further, please feel free to reach me at miamipandi@comcast.net or at Houck Anderson, P.A. at motero@houckanderson.com.

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