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Five to face charges of breaking ban on nets

Five people, including three commercial fishermen, are facing charges of violating the state's year-old net ban after their boat was boarded and three illegal nets seized, authorities said Saturday.

Citations were issued by the Florida Marine Patrol for violations observed Thursday.

"We received complaints that these commercial fishermen were violating the law," said Terry L. Noll of the Marine Patrol.

Craig Lutz, Mark D. Mora and Tim Thompson were charged with violating the constitutional amendment that prohibits the use of gill nets in state waters. The violations are second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to $500 in fines and six months in jail.

Citations were also issued to John Guthrie and Raymond Guthrie, who had each come by in their boats to help the other men, Noll said.

The new law went into effect July 1, 1995, to try to boost the dwindling populations of mullet and other species. The constitutional amendment sharply limits net fishing close to shore.