Last year at the Bay Point Billfish Tournament, Captain William Wise, III and his crew brought in a Blue Marlin hoping to get weighed in as the only boat to bring in a Marlin. However, the fish never made it off the boat, officials saying the Marlin was too small.
Tuesday, Wise was in court because of that fish, facing direct charges filed by the state for possession of an undersize Blue Marlin, and as defense attorney Bill Bolinger stated repeatedly to the jury, Tuesday’s case was over 1/4 of an inch.
Anna Avrigian was on the boat to measure the fish at the marina. She says the fish measured out to only 98.75 inches.
Lt. Drew Nelson is the investigating officer for Florida fish and wildlife. He explains the legal requirement to measure a fish is, “99 inches lower-jaw, fork-link measurement."
The defense pointed out that Florida law states the fish must be measured in a straight-line, not over or on top of the fish as done by Billfish officials who were witnesses for the state.
Nelson says the law is clear as to how a fish should be measured, "Written in the federal regulations, the tape must be laid flat on a surface and then the fish laid on top of it."
This detail became an important point of reference for the defense since the charge of undersize possession included measuring the fish accurately.
Ben Bolinger, an attorney for the defense, repeated the details in his closing statement.
"What we're dealing with here today ladies and gentleman is a 1/4 of an inch, a 1/4 of an inch."
After only a quarter of an hour of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict of not guilty.