Tourist gets jail time for taking conchs from Key West

KEY WEST, FLA. (WSVN) - A woman from Texas has been sentenced to 15 days behind bars for taking dozens of conchs from the waters around Key West.

According to Florida Keys News, 30-year-old Diana Fiscal-Gonzalez pleaded no contest to taking 40 queen conchs last year on her visit to the Keys, saying she planned to clean them and give the shells as gifts.

She apologized to the judge, saying she didn’t know it was illegal to take them.

The mollusks are protected by the state, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“Possession of live Queen Conch at any time is prohibited,” FWC’s website states. “It is not unlawful to possess queen conch shells in Florida as long as the shells do not contain any living queen conch at the time of collection, and so long as a living queen conch is not killed, mutilated, or removed from its shell prior to collection.”

An FWC officer arrested Fiscal-Gonzalez last July after receiving an anonymous tip about the woman taking the conchs from the ocean.

The officer said he arrived to the location and found her in plain view with the conchs in plastic containers.

After photographing the conchs, most of which were still alive, FWC said the officer returned them to the water.

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