Conch Harvesting Gets Tourist Over 2 Weeks Jail Time

The Texas woman said she didn't know it was illegal to harvest the threatened mollusks
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2018 6:00 PM CDT
A Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission officer is pictured with the hot conchs.   (FWC)

(Newser) – A tourist in Florida has been sentenced to 15 days jail time after she says she thought she was simply collecting sea shells. Per the Miami Herald, Diana Fiscal-Gonzalez was caught after harvesting dozens of queen conchs from the coast of Key West. Fiscal-Gonzalez, who was visiting from Texas, was reportedly arrested July 13 by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer following a tip. Fiscal-Gonzalez had a reported 40 conch shells in a plastic container. She told authorities she didn't know it was illegal to collect the live creatures in the state of Florida.

A judge sentenced her to jail, anyway, as well as to six months probation. Fiscal-Gonzalez will have to pay a $500 fine as well as $268 in court costs, according to USA Today. The conch has been a protected species in Florida since the 1970s, when over-harvesting led to a steep decline in their population in the region. In the Florida Keys, the conch is especially beloved. Floridians native to the stretch of islands refer to themselves as conchs and Key West High School's mascot is the endearingly named Fighting Conch. An FWC officer said most of the conchs Fiscal-Gonzalez took were still alive and returned to the water following her arrest.

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