PLANTATION KEY, January 9, 2020 – A man caught with lobster not legal to harvest in Upper Keys waters has learned his punishment.
Vaughn King, 52, pleaded guilty January 8 to eight counts of possessing undersized lobsters and one count of possessing over-the-limit lobster. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer cited him in 2018 after receiving a tip about people aboard a boat harvesting undersized lobsters in waters off the Venetian Shores subdivision around mile marker 85 of U.S. 1.
Monroe County Judge Sharon Hamilton sentenced King, from Raleigh, North Carolina, to one year of probation, fined him $500 and ordered him to pay $248 in court costs and $50 for the cost of prosecution.
He is banned from Monroe County waters during his probation, must perform 50 hours of community service, must write a letter of apology to the FWC and must take an FWC marine-resources education course.
Assistant State Attorney Paul Vargo, who would have sought 30 days in jail and 4.5 years of probation if King went to trial and was convicted, represented the state.
FWC Officer Garrett Jacobs was on water patrol early afternoon November 25, 2018, when he received the tip about undersized lobster being harvested. He located the 18-foot Boston Whaler with King and his son aboard. He asked them if they caught anything and the elder King held up a mesh bag with 11 lobsters in it.
Of the 11, eight were undersized (a lobster’s carapace, or shell, must be greater than three inches long when measured in the water for it to be legal to take). King told Jacobs he misunderstood how to measure lobster. The daily bag limit is six lobsters per person in Monroe County. Only Vaughn King had a lobster endorsement to harvest the crustaceans.