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This Keys man wanted to make conch salad. He’s off to jail

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This man’s conch salad plans went awry.

A Florida Keys man was sentenced to 10 days in the county jail for taking seven queen conch from the ocean in 2018.

Walter Scott Moody, 69, of Big Pine Key, pleaded no contest Thursday at the Monroe County Courthouse before County Judge Peary Fowler.

Moody will serve the time on weekends, starting Oct. 23, according to the court minutes.

Working on a neighbor’s tip, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers found the queen conch, which are prohibited to harvest in Florida, inside Moody’s freezer at his home on Nov. 30, 2019.

“We were going to do a conch salad,” Moody told officers at the time, according to the incident report.

Moody was issued a citation.

A Florida Keys man was sentenced to 10 days in jail for possession seven queen conch.A Florida Keys man was sentenced to 10 days in jail for possession seven queen conch.
A Florida Keys man was sentenced to 10 days in jail for possession seven queen conch.

A neighbor had called FWC to report seeing Moody unloading the mollusks — popular for their meat and shells — from his boat.

Moody told FWC he thought horse conch were illegal to keep but that it was legal to keep queen conch.

In addition to the jail term, Moody received six months of probation and must complete community service. He must also pay court costs.

Fowler sentenced Moody after he made an “open plea” to the court. Prosecutors noted an open plea means the parties could not agree on a sentence. The judge then determines the punishment.

Queen conch were once plentiful in the Florida Keys, but according to FWC, due to a collapse in conch fisheries in the 1970s, it became illegal to harvest commercially or recreationally.

Earlier this year, a Georgia man was sentenced to two days in jail and a year of probation for harvesting 10 queen conch in 2017.

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