KEY WEST -- A Tennessee man found off Key West with 63 lobster tails was booked into jail on 156 resource conservation counts Thursday, state marine officers report.
Charles Emanuel, 38, of Signal Mountain was snorkeling off a canoe at the Sigsbee Ledge, a few hundred feet from a U.S. Navy campground, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers.
A U.S. Coast Guard crew from Station Key West stopped around 7 p.m. to check the canoe for safety gear. As the patrol boat started to depart, a crewman spotted two catch bags dangling beneath the canoe. An inspection revealed dozens of separated lobster tails.
Emanuel "almost got away with it," said officer Bobby Dube, FWC Keys information officer.
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The eight-month regular lobster season starts Aug. 6.
FWC investigator Jeremy Munkelt filed 63 counts of possessing wrung tails on the water and another 63 counts for possessing lobster in a closed season. Twenty of the tails were undersized and several had been speared, adding more misdemeanor counts, the FWC report says.
"Mr. Emanuel told investigator Munkelt he knew the season was closed but he was here and wanted to go home with something," Dube said.
Emanuel was released from jail Friday pending a court appearance.