Key West Tourist Gets 15 Days in Jail for Collecting 40 Conch Shells

The woman, who planned to give the shells away as gifts, did not realize she was breaking the law.


Larysa Mironiec/Dreamstime.com

A Texas woman has been sentenced to 15 day in jail for illegally collecting 40 queen conch seashells while she was vacationing in the Florida Keys last summer.

Diana Fiscal-Gonzalez, 30, was arrested in July 2017 by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officer after the agency received an anonymous tip. The officer, John Martino, said that when he approached Fiscal-Gonzalez, he could see three containers filled with the shells, USA Today reports.

Last month, Fiscal-Gonzalez apologized for taking the conchs and pleaded no contest at the Monroe County Courthouse. She said she planned to use the shells as gifts and did not know it was illegal to collect them.

Judge Mark Wilson withheld adjudication in the case, meaning Fiscal-Gonzalez was not formally convicted. Still, in addition to spending 15 days in jail, she must "serve six months of probation and pay a $500 fine plus $268 for court costs," the Miami Herald reports.

In Florida, the FWC says, it's legal to collect empty seashells, but the possession of live queen conchs is "prohibited." Martino eventually put the conches back in the water, and most of them are believed to have survived.

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  1. What the lamestream media leaves out of this story is the appalling truth: These queen conchs are Lovecraftian fish-monsters, and if they’re molested while resting on the beach, then their fellow-monsters will emerge from the deep…and they’re going to be in a bad mood.

    1. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online.
      My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 2o hours a week.
      I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do …..>> https://1kdaily.us

    2. We’re going to get you, Eddy.

  2. So did she have live conchs or empty shells? The article leads you to believe the latter, while the final sentence would indicate the former.

    If she took live animals, this is a lot less sympathetic, since anyone with a brain would question whether this was legal.

    1. And now that I clicked through to the USA Today piece, it contained some key info…the shells had organisms inside…whatever that means. Between Reason and USA Today, this could not be more ambiguous.

      Were the organisms conchs or not? Why not just say so one way or the other.

      1. I had an orgasm in one. Does that count?

        1. So *you’re* the one responsible for those Lovecraftian fish-men!

          1. I have known some women who smell kinda like fish, are they perhaps fish-women?

            1. That’s right, laugh it up, but when these unspeakable abominations rise from the depths with plans for setting up a chain of underwater fried-human franchises, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

      2. Martino eventually put the conches back in the water, and most of them are believed to have survived.

        This leads me to believe that someone determined they were live.

      3. They were live conches, not dead shells She collected them the water, not the beach. It does kind of make a difference.

  3. I have no problem with this law. Queen conch are over-harvested and should be protected.

    1. I have no idea about the Queen conch but I agree the govt has legitimate authority over the commons. Now if was her private beach that is a whole other story whatever the status of Queen conch is.

  4. Don’t be a comin’ up here and takin’ our conch .

  5. Diana Fiscal-Gonzalez, 30, was arrested in July 2017 by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officer after the agency received an anonymous tip

    Ok, this is the part of the story that has me most curious.

    1. Better to be an anonymous informant than to confront the alleged perpetrator and get videoed and mocked on YouTube as “Conch-critter Clovis.”

    2. What kind of asshole calls the cops first?

      1. Like I say, the kind of asshole who doesn’t want to get on YouTube.

      2. Maybe the “asshole” said something to her first and she continued to illegally collect wildlife.

        1. I have confronted people about what I perceived was possibly unknowing vandalism in parks and forests and then informed a ranger about it later when they persisted.

          This property belongs to the commons and it is our common duty to protect it.

      3. What kind of asshole calls the cops first?

        This seems to be getting more common. There was a woman recently in a neighborhood chat group that was bragging about how when her neighbors were being loud, she avoided an “ugly confrontation” by anonymously contacting the authorities.

        I couldn’t help but think “you avoided an ugly confrontation. Your neighbor, OTOH, had a confrontation that was considerably more ugly than necessary.”

  6. JUSTICE, what is it?

    1. Uh . . . absolutely NOTHING! Ugh! Say it again!

      Is that right? I’m not sure that feels right. . . .

  7. I would think molesting queens in Key West would constitute a hate crime. But, yeah, if you’re collecting old clothes for a charity drive and there’s still people inside ’em, you ain’t collecting old clothes. Disturbing the wildlife generally requires a license of some sort and everybody ought to know that.

    1. I stepped on an ant once.

  8. Jail and probation?!? That’s absurd. She was obviously an uninformed tourist who goofed, not a serial conch killer who must be incarcerated to save the mullosks from her insatiable lust for briny blood. Just explain it to her and make her put the damned things back or, if the cop really needs to fill his quota of busts for mollusk molestation, fine her.

    1. You know what? Fuck the tourists. Fuck the snowbirds, too.

    2. I want to believe she was taking them for friends, but she must have a shitload of friends. I’m thinking her story is (pardon the pun) a little fishy. The ecosystem has been pretty badly beaten up down there; I’m dubious of her protests of benign ignorance. I will agree that jail time seems ridiculous here.

    3. Like those “uninformed” Yankees who come down south and poach baby alligators.

      1. They can legally remove pythons, however.

        1. Pythons are an invasive species in FL, just like the lionfish down the Keys. The local authorities ENCOURAGE you to take them out if you see them.

          1. We used to have this attitude in CA, too. Recently, though, we’ve been told that we shouldn’t be nativists and should be welcoming all species regardless of their place of origin.

            I really, really wish to God I was making that up just to be funny.

            1. I wish you were making that up too but I wouldn’t be surprised one iota they would be that stupid.

            2. Gimme yer address, I’ll send you a package of Kudzu seeds… 😀

          2. Pythons are a good source of Vitamin M (mercury).

            1. Glad you specified. To a Marine, vitamin M is motrin.

      2. Is this really a thing? Because if so, “Yankees Flailing Around In Alligator Swamps” sounds like something I frankly wish to encourage, and if possible, get on video.

        “See heeah, Jimmy. Paahk the caah, and head intah the swaahmp.”

        *sounds of a Bostonian being eaten by a gator*

        “Jimmy? Jimmy!?”

        1. They net or scoop them out of roadside ditches/canals.

          1. Hrmph. That doesn’t sound nearly as amusing as I’d hoped for.

  9. Now in the Bahamas, this is not the case. I had conch salad there, chopped up right before my eyes with a machete. The conch was alive prior to the machete part. Very tasty.

    1. I had conch salad there, chopped up right before my eyes with a machete. The conch was alive prior to the machete part. Very tasty.

      Raw, right? A decade ago, diving off the coast of Turks and Caicos, we pulled the conchs from the water and the guide used his diving knife to clean and serve it right there on the boat.

    2. Same for me when I visited Freeport. I was on the beach and saw some guy coming in on his skiff, and he had a couple dozen conchs in the boat that he said were in about 10 feet of water about a 1/5 of a mile off shore. He cracked two open for us and we gave him a few bucks, and had fresh conch salad for dinner.

  10. So you can be sentenced without being officially convicted?

    1. I was scratching my head about that one. Maybe she spent 15 days locked up before trial or something?

    2. If she doesn’t play ball, then the conviction is unwithheld.

      1. Oh, maybe she does the time, then stays out of trouble and in exchange for staying out of trouble it’s all expunged.

        Justice “shell” be done.

    3. Don’t want to be locked up without a conviction like a thug, don’t collect shiny seashells like a thug.

  11. How is this not a mens rea issue?

    1. Maybe because the authorities were certain she was lying and knowingly poaching live conchs?

      1. Mind readers!!

    2. She’s not running for president, so of course she knows the law.

  12. Don’t go after live sand dollars, neither.

  13. http://pjmedia.com/trending/tr…..ened-next/

    Speaking of jails, transgendered man put in a woman’s prison.

    A biological male who identifies as female was sent to a woman’s prison in Great Britain, despite not having gone through sex reassignment surgery — and now he stands accused of sexually assaulting or harassing four female inmates. The transgender prisoner has now been moved to a male prison.

    What the hell kind of sick society sticks male rapists in a women’s prison?

    1. It’s not fair to blame him. You’ve seen mug shots of female criminals. How could he help himself?

    2. And who cares if he’s mutilated his privates, why should be give incentives for unnecessary bodily mutilation?

      1. I agree. But transgenderism is full on insanity.

        1. If even PJ Media uses the phrase “despite not having gone through sex reassignment surgery,” then it’s concerning.

          We’re not “advanced” enough that we can take a (non-intersex) person and make them a different sex, so far all we’ve got the technology for is to radically change their appearance.

          (Yes, I’m aware that intersex persons are a separate issue, though the argument against bodily mutilation should apply to them as well unless it’s necessary to remove a cancer or something)

          1. The fact that PJ media says that, just shows that ll organizations eventually become leftist.

          2. (Yes, I’m aware that intersex persons are a separate issue, though the argument against bodily mutilation should apply to them as well unless it’s necessary to remove a cancer or something)

            It’s not exactly as separate as you may believe. While they can generally be given a more normal life than if they hadn’t been surgically altered there are still plenty of really big hints and plain as day facts that we don’t effectively “imbue them with the soul” of whatever gender they wind up as. As well as hints that they don’t always handle such biological mismatches well.

          3. What about “self-ownership”? If you own your body, can’t you do what you want to it?

            1. According to pure libertarianism, sure.

              But, then, pure libertarianism wouldn’t give you government benefits after you deliberately maimed yourself.

              And we haven’t gotten to the whole issue of the wisdom of self-maiming.

            2. I wish I could do what I want to it.

    3. This seems like another case of dumbing down the definition of sexual assault.

      The prisoner had been living as a woman for the past two years, but “was seen visibly aroused during the assault at the high security complex.” One alleged victim, who had become friends with the transgender inmate, claimed she could see his erect penis at the time of the assault. A second prisoner claimed that she was kissed on the neck by the transgender inmate and a third victim said she was also attacked. A fourth victim claimed the transgender prisoner made “inappropriate comments about oral sex.”

      They don’t say what s/he was convicted of.

      They also don’t mention that female prisoners are pretty routinely raped by male guards. I don’t think transgender prisoners are going to move the needle, as it were.

      1. Woman all get raped by their guards so what difference does it make if some tranny comes in and gropes them as well? No. fuck that. It is absolutely insane that that guy was allowed to be in that prison. And those women were assaulted by him. that should have never happened. Men don’t belong in women’s prisons. That is what he is, he is a fucking man. His desire to be something else doesn’t make him anything other than what he is.

        1. Zhe was a lesbian. Would you keep lesbians out of women’s prisons? /sarc

    4. “What the hell kind of sick society sticks male rapists in a women’s prison?”

      If the perp was biologicially female but raped young girls would it be okay then? Male rapist convicted of raping boys? Okay to go in a men’s prison? I get what you’re saying but I doubt your so incensed when the above examples occur, which they surely do on a routine basis.

  14. What’s with the fake headlines here recently? They weren’t shells, they were animals

    1. Good question. I don’t see how a law that says you can’t go around collecting sea animals off the beach is exactly oppressive.

    2. They weren’t shells, they were animals

      Not to get to bleeding heart but, yeah, she was pretty clearly/knowingly poaching.

  15. http://www.sfgate.com/lifestyl…..087003.php

    The burning man dipshits can’t seem the grasp the value of public sewers.

    1. A San Francisco reporter is concerned about poop in the Nevada desert? *cough* … glass houses … *cough*

      1. When it comes to dirty hippies shitting all over the place, she speaks with authority.

  16. I’m failing to see how this story would even qualify for brickbats.

  17. Aw Hell. She knew exactly what she was doing and wasn’t even going to eat them:

    Officer John Martino reported seeing three containers full of queen conches soaking in bleach and water when he met with Fiscal-Gonzalez.

    You don’t have to bleach empty shells.

    1. Most likely, though recently vacated shells might need bleaching. The real indicator of her guilt is that no one is collecting that many conchs unless they were alive pre-bleaching.

  18. the agency received an anonymous tip

    Snitches get stitches.

  19. susie sells seashells down by the seashore and… gets 15 days in jail.

    1. I’m surprised it took that long to get to that joke.

  20. Conchfritters are delicious.

    1. You remind me of that pig at the end of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

      1. Heh – nice find

  21. I’m mixed on this. I’m ok with the law. I go to Key West like 2-3 times a year, and if they wish to ban the harvesting of Conch in order to save the local population (despite serving some form of Conch in nearly every restaurant, generally imported from the Bahamas or Mexico) so be it. However, I do have somewhat of a problem with prosecuting somebody who legit doesn’t know. It’s not as if there are signs at every beach, and you do run across Conch fairly regularly while swimming. She collected 40 Conchs, which to me comes across as a bit suspicious.. But still. If you visit, and see Conch on every menu – You could come to a logical conclusion that harvesting them is quite legal.

    Side Note: Conch Fritters are garbage. It’s essentially a lot of breading and filler, with little bits of previously frozen and imported Conch in there. If you want real Conch, go to Mexico or the Bahamas. The best Conch I’ve ever eaten was at some non-touristy beach town in Mexico, where they literally served me a heaping plate. It was delicious. Bahamas also serves it fresh, and again – Delicious.

    1. The conch fritters at the Pier House in Key West are quite good – almond crusted and no breading. But I agree they are the exception.

  22. They weren’t just seashells though,they were live animals

  23. Demand a jury trial.

    Make the state prosecute someone for collecting a seashell.

    No more seashell by the seashore rhymes.

  24. I always thought the Keys were more Caribbean islands than U.S. mainland in terms of natural geography. And last I remember conch is plentiful and cheap (and delicious) in the islands down south.

    This lady could at least have had the decency to eat the delicious conches before poaching their shells. This shit is like the snail version of the stereotypical “evil” poacher–like stripping the carcass of their cash or trophy portions and leaving the meat out to rot in the sun. I bet she ripped the fins off a few sharks while she was there to sell them to the Chinese, then threw them back in the water. (The sharks, not the fins or Chinese.)

    We can only hope her next trip is to poach the beautiful cone snail. No Big Brother needed here!

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