Captain Dave Dipre of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been happening on the waters.
The FWC graduated six officers from the field training program.
Dipre said, “We were still about eight officer shy of where we needed to be. We’re getting another six coming to us on Friday. That is a group that graduated from the Academy of the Florida Keys. They’ll go into a three-month training program also and when they are finished, we’re only going to be probably four or five officers short of our 51 positions down here, which is great. That’s better than we’ve been for a long time.”
Governor Ron DeSantis’s edict has brought another 11 officers down to help with the migrant situation.
Dipre said, “We are what I would call a little bit of a surplus, but that’s okay considering all the extra duties the governor has asked us to follow up on dealing with the incoming migrants, assisting our partners in Coast Guard and border patrol. We are right where we want to be. It means that the people of Florida, the residents are getting the protection they want. So that’s fantastic. People should expect it of us. Where’s FWC? Are they on the water? Are they out there checking the fisheries? Are they out there doing the boating safety? Where is FWC? They have a right to say that and I should be able to say you should see them on the water. You should run into them. You should be meeting with them and talking with them on a regular basis because we are not short staffed.”
The migrant issue has been quite complicated.
Dipre said, “They’re giving us the tools to do the job also. We got a new 40-foot SeaVee which is our offshore patrol vessel run by operations. It will stay here in the Keys because it is just for the Florida Keys. That boat is up and down the reef line. It’s being operated by three different teams so we can keep that boat going hopefully about seven days a week outside of what maintenance requirements it has. That is making our job so much better.”
The new officers are at the marinas and the docks and on the boats checking people.
Dipre said, “They are making resource case after resource case. There are just a lot of people who still come to the Florida Keys who know the rules, but sometimes choose not to follow them. I don’t think our officers are ever giving out citations to individuals who mom and pop come down from Michigan and they’ve got one undersized lobster. I don’t think we’re giving citations for that kind of thing. What we’re giving citations for is when I ask you if you’ve got fish on board and you say no. Then I ask you to look maybe underneath the cooler and underneath that blanket over there and then I find two or three under sized lobster and you pretend as though you’re confused and tell me oh I didn’t know you meant lobster. You said fish. Come on. You know that you’re not supposed to take them and that’s why you’ve hidden them. They didn’t swim there or end up there by themselves. There was intent to take them and keep them and for that you received a criminal violation and the state attorney’s office is going to follow through with that and they’re going to start by asking for 10 days in jail.”