KEY WEST, Fla. – A Florida Keys man has been sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for illegally harvesting spiny lobsters from artificial underwater habitats.
The 16-month sentence was imposed Wednesday on 40-year-old Manuel Ravelo Jr. of Big Coppitt Key. Ravelo had earlier pleaded guilty to illegally harvesting lobsters from about August 2007 to March 2009.
As part of his plea, Ravelo removed 200 artificial lobster habitat sites he had used in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It's illegal to use artificial habitat to harvest spiny lobsters and it's also illegal to alter the seabed of the Keys marine sanctuary. The sanctuary covers some 2,800 square miles.
Authorities say Ravelo made about $390,000 in the scheme, which also involved two wholesale lobster dealers in Key West.