Deputy Nelson Sanchez was on patrol in his Sheriff’s Office patrol boat when he saw a man and a woman on a rock jetty near Founder’s Park in Islamorada. He noticed they had a white cooler and asked if he could check it. Inside he found undersized lobster which had been speared. He asked where the lobster came from. The couple said a third person – 24 year old Brandon Shelby – was in the water and had been catching the lobster.
Deputy Sanchez motored over to where Shelby was swimming in the water. As he approached, he saw Shelby drop items to the bottom. He told Shelby he could see what he dropped and asked him to retrieve the items. Shelby retrieved a pole spear and a white mesh bag. Inside the bag, Deputy Sanchez found a lobster, and several fish, all of which had been speared.
Shelby was asked to exit the water and he was taken into custody. He was charged with 14 counts possession of undersized lobster, 15 counts possession of speared lobster, two counts possession of undersized Sheepshead, possession of undersized Hog Snapper, possession of lobster over the bag limit and spear fishing in upper Keys waters. He was booked into jail.
The fish and lobster, which were all deceased, were photographed for evidence, then donated to the Wild Bird Center in Tavernier.