Following the release of video footage from a commercial fishing vessel by PETA, on 1st June 2022, two fishermen from Florida, US, were arrested on felony charges of animal cruelty and misdemeanour resource violations. A video recorded in November 2021 and released by PETA shows Charles Mora appearing to rip the mantle off a live octopus leaving the animal to die slowly in a bin. It also shows Michael Bossert removing a small nurse shark from a trap, then slamming it twice against the side of the boat, and then cutting the shark into pieces to be used as bait. Both men were arrested because of what the video shows — which was recorded by Kerin Rosen, an informant of PETA.
Mora faces a third-degree felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty, with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Bossert also faces second-degree misdemeanour charges of possession of an undersized nurse shark and failing to land a shark in whole condition. According to the arrest warrants, the bond was set at $10,000 for Mora and $30,000 for Bossert.
PETA’s attorney Jared Goodman said to Keys Weekly, We’re certainly glad to see that prosecutors are pursuing this because the scientific evidence shows that octopuses feel pain and are intelligent… They use tools, they recognize human faces, and disembowelling them causes them excruciating pain and is inherently illegal.” PETA’s videos also exposed the practice of stone crab mutilation undertaken by other workers. This involves fishermen hauling trapped stone crabs out of the water and tearing their claws off, then throwing the mutilated animals into the boat’s wake from high above the water. The legs of some of these mutilated crabs are also torn off when workers throw them into bins.