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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Illegal Gill Nets Plague the Chesapeake Bay***
by Tony Friedrich
CCA MD Executive Director
Baltimore Sun Outdoor Writer Candus Thomson called yesterday and alerted me to what will be the largest single gill net violation in the last 25 years.* I had to see for myself, so I drove over to Matapeake State Park to watch the off load.* I saw 900 yards of illegal nets on the decks of two boats.* I saw hundreds of dead stripers, a few big mud shad, and even sea ducks being cut from this anchored wall of death.*
This net was anchored, untended, was set before the opening of the season which started on February 1at 3 a.m.*This illegal net and the people that set it claimed more than 6,000 pounds of striped bass, five times the amount allowed per day on a commercial vessel in the Bay.* It's hard for people to imagine what this looks like in person, so I've included several images (link).*
Thankfully, these fish will not be wasted as they will be sold to raise funds for the Natural Resources Police (NPR).* However, this incident raises several key issues.* First, how many more of these nets are plaguing the Bay?*There are reportedly many more illegal nets out there and the NRP are after them.*What happens when many of these illegally anchored nets are abandoned once the word gets out that NRP is on the prowl?
Candus asked me, "What else can we do?"* For some time CCA has worked with the Department of Natural Resources tirelessly on this issue.** To the Department's credit, it has answered many of our concerns by creating harsher penalties and increased enforcement.* In my experience these are the finest men and women the DNR has had on staff.** We've also worked closely with the Natural Resources Police and donated thousands of dollars in equipment, some of which may have used in this very same bust.* You won't find a more committed group of people anywhere.* But they are woefully understaffed and under-equipped. They need our support now more than ever with potential budget cuts looming in the General Assembly.* Even the courts have answered our pleas.*Working with the Department, they established a dedicated Natural Resources Docket once a month in the District Court for Anne Arundel County.*This approach will likely be instituted throughout the state's other District Courts in the coming year.* DNR, NRP, and the Maryland Judiciary have all not only recognized a problem but also addressed it.* That's all you can ask from your fisheries managers.* Yet, today I watched dead striper after dead striper cut from a never ending pile of illegal net.* There are more out there right now, abusing our resources.* Many will never be found and few will face charges for these crimes.*
CCA Maryland firmly believes that striped bass are a public resource. What I saw today was a crime against all the citizens of Maryland.*It was a slap in the face to the Department of Natural Resources which tries to be fair even in the face of mounting evidence.*It's an insult to those commercial fishermen that abide by the rules, even when some of their neighbors and friends refuse to do so.*How much longer can we risk the health of striped bass stocks for a few outlaws?*How much tolerance are the people of Maryland expected to have?*Please stay tuned for more information because the story is still unfolding.*In fact, I just got back from Matapeake this morning.*They have located several more nets and already hauled in another 5000lbs of illegally netted striped bass with more coming into port as you read this.
You can read Candy's outstanding article on The Sun's website, http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/bs-sp-rockfish-poaching-20110201,0,3432078.story. Additional coverage will likely appear in The Sun this Sunday.
 

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Hank - Any chance you could send 8-9 Florida fisheries officers up here for a few weeks ?

No slap on the wrist , a dozen PBJ's or small fines in Fla. - Md needs to do the same.

Bad part is - DNR got the nets but not the poachers.
 

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Just saw most of this on Channel 13..seems as though this will count against the commercial harvest?.....In other words it will be included in the total number..there are alot of honest waterman out there...but some real bad ones too......
 

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UFB....they found more than the last two in 48 hours. What a rape...

Sad....

Thanks to the DNR guys/gals for their hard work.

Time to lock up some azz's and take their boats. Hopefully they don't resort to beating up 93 year olds in wheelchairs.

Jim
 

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The MWA is a pretty tight knit group comprised mostly of honest HARD working men and some dishonest CRIMINALS. I think that some of the honest guys know who's doing it and look the other way and won't turn in a fellow waterman. Now that this is going to count against the commercial allocation, more might decide to police themselves. We have been blaming water quality, weather and many other reasons for the decline of stripers. How many more 900 yard nets are out there?............Gary
 

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gary..you're right...this is gonna hit the waterman in thier pockets...most of them are having a pretty tough time as it is...they need to police themselves for sure...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
27 Sailfish your right about that. The Florida DNR already caught me for doing 60 kt.s in the channel with a live well full of fish.:yes: All the fish were legal but I was going way to fast.:nono: The DNR is at every turn down here with their eyes wide open. Another net was found in EB. I think it was today. Jamie there poaching some of my hot spots.:nono:
 

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I was thinking the same thing Hank...
Back to that 93 yr old guy getting beat up/robbed in the wheelchair...he lives behind my parents house..the guy that did this to him is actually his sisters grandchild?...
 

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The NRP have an ongoing investigation to find out who these nets belong to. Investigators will be talking to people and making some deals. They will be researching recent purchases of nets. People like to talk and that's what gets most of them caught. Just because they didn't get them red handed tending the nets, that doesn't mean that they won't be caught. More than anything else, the good, honest watermen will suffer the allocation loss and they too will talk. Let NRP work this investigation before judging their actions or motives. I believe good things will come from this and most of the fish were saved to sell............Gary
 

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Gary I just saw where they are donating some fish to homeless shelters and selling the rest...
I just talked to my dad who is a waterman...they will be caught...when you start hurting the honest guys in their pockets, they are gonna talk...
 

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Hank, I just re-read that...you were only doing 60?......What were there jet skis in the way or something.?.....:yes:
 

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Gary I just saw where they are donating some fish to homeless shelters and selling the rest...
I just talked to my dad who is a waterman...they will be caught...when you start hurting the honest guys in their pockets, they are gonna talk...
Thanks Jamie, This might turn out to be a good thing. Watermen policing them selves, homeless eating GOOD and maybe a ban of all nets in the bay. Make lemonade!!...........Gary
 

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Hey Jumbo1, Your dad is a waterman ? I understand that it is common to set anchor nets and catch a big quantity of fish and then check them in throughout the week ? Lets say that the daily quota is 300 lbs/day, and some one caught 1500 lbs in one day, then they would check them in every day throughout the week. What say you ?? I know this sounds crazy, I find it hard to believe that someone would attempt to bring in and sell at one time 6000 lbs of fish !!!
 

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Southern Grin...my dad is actually semi-retired he only works a couple days a week or less on other guys boats...
I agree with your theory...I was actually thinking the same thing...or someone tipped them off DNR was on to them and they let the nets sit for a couple days...You can bet one thing..thats not the first time those nets have been full of fish..
I also don't buy the theory of "They were patrolling an illegal fishing area" or something like that...
Thats alot of fish for sure......very sad...
 

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In my opinion, what we are looking at here is nothing short of organized crime. It's not a slight against our wildlife enforcement officers to say they're outnumbered and under-gunned. Even when they make arrests, nothing happens. I can't help but wonder whether Maryland has the resources to handle this problem. I've also heard that more nets have been found and the numbers of fish poached continue to grow. The time for blaming "a few bad apples" has passed. Poaching in Maryland is overwhelmingly out of control.
 

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Good to see this getting some publicity from different angles.

I have talked to lots of people who saw poaching over the years. Mpst didn't bother to talk because they didn't think anything owuld get done anyway. I hope this promotes people to talk and instills confidence in the system.

And, I agree Shawn, this is organized crime and they are stealing. I think they should get the same sentance as robbing a bank and getting away with an equivalent amount of money.
 

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Bottom Knocker,, your right,, just think what goes on down Hooper ville and places far from civilization. And to think MD is so hemmed up about VA beach and what a few charter boats are doing,, sounds like they need to patrol there own back yard. What do you think eddie?
 

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Just saw most of this on Channel 13..seems as though this will count against the commercial harvest?.....In other words it will be included in the total number..there are alot of honest waterman out there...but some real bad ones too......
Jamie, do the other waterman really care if it counts against their harvest? The Feb gill net quota is 415k (by the way, anyone who thinks there aren't fish in the bay in the winter should really pay attention to these figures, if gill nets can net 415k pounds of fish, there are still allot of decent sized fish wintering over) so take away the 20k that has been found to be illegally caught and that's about a 5% reduction in harvest for everyone. Is that enough to make the honest guys want to help johnny law?

striped bass harvest numbers: http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/commercial/harvestmonitoring.html

Come'on terps, stop giving up the 3 ball.
 
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