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A special detail of wildlife officers has been working the Nature Coast from Cedar Key to Shired Island handing out citations and arresting fishermen cited more than once in an effort to curb the harvesting of oysters in closed areas. Officers have filed 16 cases thus far.
State Fish and Wildlife Commission Officers Darby Butler, Travis Cooper, Jordan Hilliard, Larry Ayers, Robert Johnston, Carolyn Russo, Scott Wiggins, Daniel Jenkins, Kevin Lamar and Lt. James Umhoefer participated in the joint effort which included land and waterborne surveillance, marked and unmarked units and coordination of resources.
Their work resulted in numerous misdemeanor citations being issued for violations ranging from illegal harvest of shellfish to possession of marijuana.
FWC officers cited five commercial fishermen for taking oysters from a plain clothes operation on a South Levy Creek. The out-of-town men have an Oct. 22 court date in Levy County Court. If adjudicated guilty the fine could go as high as $600 per person on the two charges.
In the latest operation that spanned Levy and Dixie Counties four suspects, who had been issued citations for oystering violations within the previous two weeks, were placed under arrest and incarcerated at the Dixie County Jail where they were booked into custody as repeat offenders.
The five cited as repreat offenders are:
• Robert Jefferson Keith Jr., 33
• Spence Dwayne Massey, 43
• Adelaida Olguin Ramos Keith, 34
• Merritt Brandon Taylor, 28.
In the South Levy operation, two plainclothes officers observed the commercial fishermen harvesting and culling oysters from a prohibited area on a creek on Sept. 9.
Cited were: Braxton Curtis Chisholm, Robert Calhoun Hartsfield, Rondal Lee Hartsfield, Wayne Brandon Messer and Gregory Lynn Starkey.