Subjects Cited For Illegal Oyster Harvest in Plaquemines Parish

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited three subjects for alleged oyster violations on April 18 in Plaquemines Parish.

Agents cited Felix Castillo-Rochez, 31, of Kenner, Rolfi V. Pastor, 32, and Devin Nunez, 26, both of New Orleans, for unlawfully taking oysters off a private lease and failing to have written permission. Rochez was also cited for littering, failing to display proper decal, and no fire extinguisher in his vessel. Since Pastor and Nunez failed to have any valid identification, agents arrested them for oyster theft and booked them into the Plaquemines Parish Detention Center.

Agents were on patrol in the Grand Bayou area located in Port Sulphur when they responded to an in progress oyster theft complaint from a local leaseholder. Agents received photos of the location from the leaseholder after the three men fled the area. Agents immediately responded and found the vessel harvesting oysters in another location.

Unlawfully taking oysters off a private lease and failing to have written permission carry up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail for each offense. Littering brings up to a $500 fine and eight hours of community service in a litter abatement work program as approved by the court. Fail display proper decal, and no fire extinguisher in the vessel carries up to a $50 fine for each offense.

The fishermen could also face having their oyster harvester licenses revoked by LDWF for up to one year. The violators could also be sentenced to perform 40 hours of community service and only be allowed to harvest oysters from a vessel that is equipped with a vessel monitoring device for up to one year.

Additionally, the vessel used will have a forfeiture order placed on it until the case is heard in the 25th Judicial District of Plaquemines Parish. Agents seized four sacks of oysters and returned them to the private lease water bottoms.

Agents participating in the case are Corporal Thomas Forehand, Senior Agent Austin Landry and Lt. Adam Young. The case will be forwarded to Charles Ballay for prosecution.