Here is some troubling news. According to a recent article on KeysNet, a news organization that focuses on the Florida Keys, the owner of Tropicorium Inc. and one of his employees have been indicted on felony charges of illegally taking livestock from Florida waters. The article states that the owner, Richard Perrin, and an employee, Joseph Franko, made two separate trips to the Florida Keys back in 2011. On these trips, they brought a customized van and a boat to collect saltwater fish and corals. Where the two men tripped up is that they did not have the proper permits to collect in Florida and they collected a slew of protected species. In addition to these charges, they are also being hit with violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits the transport of illegally harvested animals across state lines.
To make the whole situation even worse, the two men are also accused of taking at least 10 baby alligators, and at least one of their intercepted boxes contained 66 prohibited sea fans, 12 blue-line anemone shrimp, 20 baby angelfish less than 1 inch in length, and one baby butterflyfish. Additionally, several undersized nurse sharks were illegally taken, all receiving a different species name on shipping documents.
According to the indictment, Perrin and Franko could face up to 10 years in prison, along with all sorts of untold fines. The van that they used to transport the illegally collected livestock will likely be forfeited to the state as well.
We find these acts to be particularly troubling as they are not isolated. The Florida officials have caught numerous collectors over the past couple of years, and many of them have strong ties to the aquarium industry. It’s not an argument over proper permits and oversights on the part of the collectors. Rather, these are blatant violations of the law that deserve, in our opinions, to be handled quickly and to the fullest extent of the law.
This story was originally posted on Advanced Aquarist