Gill nets have been banned in Florida waters since July 1,1995.
Since Feb. 24, sheriff’s marine bureau deputies have recovered 12 gill nets in local waters.
“It’s starting to look like a fish house here we’ve got so many,’’said Sgt. Dave Bruening of the CCSO’s marine bureau.
Placed end to end, the recovered gill nets, each measuring around 500 square feet, would stretch for more than a mile, said Bruening.
Fishermen are hiding gill nets in the water, sometimes in plastic drums, and then marking the spots with bags in trees, said Bruening.
No arrests have been made but anyone caught transporting gill nets over water or using the banned nets to fish with could be charged with a felony.
Deputies have recovered nets south of Dollar Bay, near Gordon Pass; south of Round Key, just outside Everglades National Park; near Dismal Key, in Buttonwood Bay, and in Goodland Bay.
Deputies are dismantling and destroying the found nets and marking them as abandoned property.
Bruening said he doesn’t think the recovered nets are a sign that gill net fishing is becoming a growing problem in Collier waters.
“I don’t think there are any more nets than there were this time last year,’’ he said. “I just think we’re more educated in how to spot them.”
Anyone who finds an illegal gill net or has information on gill net fishing in local waters is urged to call the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 774-4434, or you can contact CCSO anonymously through the agency’s crime information tips line 775-TIPS (8477).
Click here to watch a CCSO video of the recovered gill nets.
One of the dozen gill nets recovered by CCSO. Photo by Natalie Felber/CCSO