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By Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun

2:24 p.m. EST, February 18, 2011

The Department of Natural Resources has delayed a decision on reopening the commercial gill net season in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Top agency officials met Friday to review the investigation into the eight poaching incidents that began in late January and forced the closure of the season on Feb. 4. They will take the issue up again next week, said DNR spokesman Josh Davidsburg.

But time is running out on the commercial season, which is set to close at the end of the month and not reopen until December.

State officials are concerned that they don't know if poaching has been curbed and if their monitoring system is adequate to ensure Maryland doesn't exceed its monthly quota.

Illegal nets submerged in the waters around Kent Island have netted 12.6 tons of striped bass, also known as rockfish. Subtracting those fish plus legally harvested fish from the quota leaves 200,000 pounds for the rest of February.

Watermen have urged the state to lift the ban, but recreational anglers and conservation groups have recommended that the season remain closed until safeguards are in place.
 

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With other states watching - might be wise for Md to keep it closed.

If I read the rules correctly - each net license is allowed 300 pounds per day. At roughly $2.50 a lb - $750.00 gross. Then fuel and other expenses come out.
DNR predicted the netters to only get 1 or 2 days until quota was met.

Seems a lot to risk for not that much money with ASMFC meeting soon.

Unless more fish are kept/sold then reported.
 

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I sent an email to the DNR fisheries folks this afternoon expressing my views. I understand the plight of the honest watermen and feel for them but the blatant disregard for the laws and continuing to place illegal nets in the same areas by a few bad apples is something that shouldn't be tolerated. I think it's sending the wrong signal if they re-open the gill net fishery while some continue to thumb their nose at the rules. If the sting is felt by all then perhaps they will start to police their own a bit better....

John
 

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I guess they need the extra time to compose the right "press release" with the proper wording. They already know what they are going to decide, now they need to cover their butts (with either group) and a political announcement.
5th (Marty)
 

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A recent public statement from DNR that I also posted on the policy board:

Rockfish Poaching Reward Now Tops $30,000

http://www.dnr.state.md.us/dnrnews/p...011/021811.asp

Rockfish Poaching Reward Now Tops $30,000

Two citizens donate $8,000 towards reward Gill Net Fishery Remains Closed

Annapolis, Md. (February 18, 2011) - Thanks to extraordinary responses from stakeholders and private citizens, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is now offering $30,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for attempting to steal 10 tons of rockfish off of Bloody Point in the Chesapeake Bay.

DNR has set aside $5,000 from the sale of the poached fish for the reward. The agency's partners have put up an additional $17,500, including a $10,000 donation by the Chesapeake BaySavers. Today, two private citizens - who wish to remain anonymous - have stepped up and donated $8,000 to further encourage those with information to come forward.

"The fact that these private citizens are joining our effort to identify these criminals is testament to the anger being felt across our State and along the East Coast. We cannot thank them enough for their selfless contribution," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "We - as Marylanders -have invested time, effort and money toward revitalizing the striped bass population and stealing from this fishery is stealing from all us."

On February 1, Natural Resources Police confiscated the first of four illegally anchored gill nets with more than 10 tons of striped bass near Bloody Point Light, south of Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay.

On February 11, NRP located additional illegally anchored gill nets. Two 900-yard strings of illegal anchored gill nets were located in Eastern Bay. One net was found about a mile south and the second net was found about two and a half miles northeast of Bloody Point Light. A total of 3,879 pounds of rockfish were removed from the second string of anchored gill nets, which officers believe were set after the shut down of the fishery on February 4.

Maryland's commercial striped bass fishery is managed on a quota system, in cooperation with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; the commercial gill net quota for February is 354,318 pounds. When the illegally harvested striped bass confiscated by the NRP were deducted from the quota, DNR was forced to immediately shut down the fishery.

The fishery will remain closed until DNR can determine the extent of illegal nets out on the Bay and the amount of striped bass caught in those nets. Before reopening the season, DNR will make sure the current system for accounting for harvest is sufficient and that reopening does not increase the risk for further poaching.

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February 18, 2011 Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
[email protected]
 

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I think all the fisherman here should donate 1 2 or 5 dollars to that fund to get that reward much bigger... maybe even set up a website for donations... I will look into that.....
 

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There are more nets for sure,as soon as they reopen those nets will be pulled in .I believe the decision has already been made to reopen.
 

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When you really think about it, will it matter whether they open up the gill net season for February? if they do not have their quota caught in February for February, it will be added to December's quota. Maybe if they do reopen it, they will hang themselves and the additional publicity will make it even harder to justify a gill net season at all.

You can bet the DNR will be out in force.

Ele
 
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