Live rock smuggler busted

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A reefkeeper and specialist marine retailer has been arrested for alledgedly smuggling live rock into Florida from the Bahamas.

The man is well known to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who have already had 14 previous run-ins with him for marine offences.

When officials met the dealer's boat they found a secret compartment containing 168 lbs of live rock. It is illegal to collect live rock in the USA and most of the Caribbean.

Lt Chris Sella told The Sun Sentinel: "He had a hatch where the fuel tank used to be. He took the flooring up and lined it with plastic and filled it with water. If you just looked at it, you would think it was flooring."

Officials confiscated a GPS system from his boat to try to determine the location from which the rock had been taken from. The man was charged with possession of live rock and possession of coral. Both offences carry a $500 fine and a prison sentence of up to 60 days.

The Sun Sentinel claims that reefkeepers are starting to create a demand for live rock and corals from the Atlantic and the Caribbean, giving rise to a black market.