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From reading the news you’d think the Justice Department only goes after big fish like Zacarias Moussaoui, Kenneth Lay, and Mark Foley. Not so. As if to prove that point, Justice Department headquarters issued a press release last week touting the sentencing of Christopher Weaver, a sometime charter-boat captain from Panama City, Fla., for unlawfully shooting at dolphins. In October 2005 the Berg Steel Pipe Corp. of Panama City took a group of its employees and customers deep-sea fishing on the Leo Too, a boat skippered by Weaver. About 30 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, Weaver noticed a group of dolphins trailing the boat and trying to steal fish off his customers’ lines. Weaver responded by pulling a Smith & Wesson .357-caliber Magnum, and, with a quick warning to his passengers, he began firing in the water near the dolphins. “We were very startled,” says Lydia Velez, a secretary at Berg Steel who was on the boat. “I looked at one of our vice presidents and said, ‘What is going on?’” Weaver says dolphins’ stealing of fish has been a growing problem since sightseeing boats began feeding the mammals to attract them. “I didn’t shoot at them. I shot in the water to scare them away,” says Weaver, who also says that he’s heard of people not only shooting at dolphins but “making pipe bombs, lighting them, and throwing them in the water.” Weaver pleaded guilty and was given a $1,000 fine and two years’ probation for violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Mary Dee Carraway of the DOJ’s Environmental Crimes Section handled the case for the feds.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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