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Florida's Operation 'Mack Attack' Takes Bite Out Of Illegal 'Back-door' Fish Sales

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Six thousand pounds of fish bought and sold. Ten thousand dollars in money exchanged. Six charter boats cited. Forty-two charges filed. These are the results of a three-month Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) investigation targeting charter boats selling saltwater fish illegally.

The investigation began in September. The FWC identified a man buying kingfish (mackerel), a restricted species, and other fish from charter boats in the Fort Lauderdale area. The investigation revealed the man, Causley M. Coutain, 52, of Plantation, was selling the fish without a license. Licenses are required for anyone intending to deal in the saltwater products industry, as a wholesale or retail dealer.

Coutain is facing 14 charges, including the unlawful purchase of saltwater products and the unlawful purchase of a restricted species. Officers observed Coutain selling the fish to a local fish market, the Broward Meat and Fish Company. The market was cited for purchasing fish from an unlicensed dealer.

Additionally, investigators discovered six charter boats were breaking the law. Some boats did not have the required licenses to sell the fish. Other boats were cited for failing to comply with reporting requirements and failing to have a restricted species endorsement.

“Being that we are officers charged with protecting our fish and wildlife resources, we are concerned about the impact back-door fish sales have on our marine resources, said Lt. David Bingham, who supervised the investigation. “We are working to ensure the sustainability of the resource.”

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