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Unbelievable. I had high hopes....

DNR ANNOUNCES LIMITED REOPENING OF STRIPED BASS GILL NET FISHERY
Enforcement Patrols, Poaching Investigations Intensify

Annapolis, MD (February 22, 2011) - With an estimated 200,000 pounds of the State's February quota remaining, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will reopen the February striped bass gill net fishery on Friday, February 25, and Monday, February 28; all normal harvest restrictions will remain in effect. The fishery has been closed since February 4, after 10 tons of illegally captured rockfish were confiscated from the Chesapeake Bay south of Kent Island. In all, 12.5 tons of illegally captured rockfish have been found by Natural Resources Police this month.

"While we continue to aggressively search, we have not found any additional illegal gill nets since last Wednesday, and at this time, we are not sufficiently close to the quota to justify penalizing the honest watermen who depend on this fishery during the winter months," said DNR Secretary John Griffin. "That said, those who continue to violate the public trust should be forewarned: We will be stepping up patrols on the water and at check stations as we continue to vigorously investigate these crimes. And, once apprehended, we will prosecute these offenders to the fullest extent of the law."

Maryland's commercial striped bass fishery is managed on a quota system, in cooperation with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; commercial and recreational restrictions are used to keep the harvest at or below a target fishing mortality rate. Maryland's commercial gill net quota for February is 354,318 pounds; the State's annual commercial quota is 2 million pounds.

"Our record on fisheries management should reassure our citizens, stakeholders and partners that we would not be not be taking this action if we thought it might threaten the resource," continued Secretary Griffin. Under the leadership of Governor Martin O'Malley, Maryland has been consistently conservative in its approach to managing the State's fishery resources including blue crabs, oysters, yellow perch, snapping turtles, terrapins, menhaden, horseshoe crabs and river herring.

"An independent survey - outside of commercial harvest reports - is used to inform managers when the harvest exceeds the sustainable fishing mortality rate," explained DNR Fisheries Director Tom O'Connell. "With peak daily gill net catch rates of 70,000 pounds per day, and a norm of 50,000 to 60,000 pounds per day, a two-day opening is very conservative. We do not expect that this action will cause either the February gill net quota or the annual commercial quota to be exceeded. In the unlikely event the February quota is exceeded, or if additional illegal gill nets with fish are found, the overage will be deducted from the December gill net quota."

"During these two days, Natural Resources Police operations will be stepped up significantly through increased patrols, additional staff at check stations, and the use of our new electronic monitoring capabilities," said Col. George Johnson, Natural Resources Police Superintendent.

On February 1, Natural Resources Police confiscated the first of four illegally anchored gill nets with more than 20,000 pounds of striped bass near Bloody Point Light, south of Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay, forcing the immediate closure of the fishery. On February 11, NRP located additional illegally anchored gill nets containing 3,879 pounds of rockfish - nets officers believe were set after the shut down of the fishery on February 4. Legal sized fish were sold to wholesalers and under and over-sized fish were donated to help feed citizens in need.

Through the extraordinary response of partners and the public, DNR is now offering a $30,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the striped bass poaching activities uncovered on January 31-February 1. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Savers, Maryland Charter Boat Association, Maryland Coastal Conservation Association, Maryland Saltwater Sportfisherman's Association Maryland Watermen's Association, and private citizens have all contributed toward the reward.

"Throughout this extremely unfortunate situation, we have been heartened by the support of our stakeholders and citizens," continued Secretary Griffin. "I would like to challenge other groups to follow their lead, act responsibly and work on behalf of those they represent, those whose livelihoods are threatened by these crimes.

State Senator Brian Frosh has already introduced a bill that would allow DNR to revoke a license for a specified offense related to unlawfully taking striped bass or crabs. DNR is stepping up law enforcement operations and working with stakeholders to develop and propose further regulations and increased penalties to better address under-reporting of harvest at check stations and illegal markets for untagged and unchecked striped bass, in addition to the use of illegal gill nets.

Information on these crimes should be called into the Natural Resources Police Catch-a-Poacher Hotline at 800-635-6124. Callers may remain anonymous.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/bs-sp-rockfish-season-opened-0223-20110222,0,707011.story
 

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It was mentioned in another thread yesterday and it's very true, the reality is the commercial jobs are more protected than the resource they are harvesting.

Oh btw, trollers be sure to remove the stingers and barbs from your pre season gear. Thx.
 

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They could have pushed it to the December gill net fishery while investigations were under way.

I am greatly disappointed in MD DNR's decision as a citizen of Maryland as well as a Commissioner on the Sport Fish Advisory Commission.
 

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I'm confused ( nothing new ).

Did the Washington Post just have a story about a gill net found in last day or two or was that from a few weeks ago ?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...022104872.html

Shame there is not a way to put a DNR officer on each gill net boat to ensure the legal limit is kept.
my guess is that that press release was written over the weekend and they ignored the net found today...
edit
upon closer inspection it seems the article was written about last weeks seizure...
As they approached the same area Wednesday, acting on the tip, Rafter, Ford and Windemuth swapped stories about arrests. Fishermen hide illegal catches in hollowed out batteries, under false boat floors, in the sleeves of jackets, they said.

Ford spotted the net the tipster had reported, and Rafter barked out directions on how to ease up to it. "Okay, Bob, go ahead and turn your engine hard to the right and back her up!" The boat crept along, waves tossing the phone-booth-sized cabin wildly left and right.
:nono:
 

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Maryland DNR Just let one for the fisheries slip out of their hand. Too bad the fish WILL suffer, lower #s reported just this week not to mention MISmanagement that EVERY state along the East coast will pounce on...I'm writing my Senator I hope he fishes.
 

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They could have pushed it to the December gill net fishery while investigations were under way.

I am greatly disappointed in MD DNR's decision as a citizen of Maryland as well as a Commissioner on the Sport Fish Advisory Commission.
I agree 100% Brandon. Rolling any remaining quota to December sounded like the best option as DNR would have been able to continue its investigation. Any remaining illegal nets will be pulled asap as soon as the season opens. DNR will never know the extent of the problem. Not exactly erring on the side of caution.....................................Mark
 

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I'm disappointed in the decision too, although just opening it for two days with increased enforcement and additional monitoring are steps in the right direction. It's obviously going to take work at a level other than the advisory commission to get any meaningful change. If the answer to the three questions the commission asked is always going to be "no," then why is gill netting allowed?

• Is the illegal gill net fishing under control?
• Can a gill net fishery be effectively managed?
• Can the gill net fishery’s catch be fully accounted for?
 

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So thats two days for legal comms to use gillnets to catch rock and make money. Glad they will get some income for the month of February. Mean while, the poachers are probably still catching and will continue to harvest rockfish illegally. Lets not act like poaching in the bay will discontinue. The DNR should be accountable to the public with any poachers or equipment found for poaching. All illegal activities should be on public record to let Marylanders know whats going on. Imagine if you will, if past poaching discoveries were known to us and the actions that should have been taken years ago to prevent poaching. We have been deceived by the DNR, who said the nets found this year do not total half of what was found last year. The public outcry this year would have taken place last year and our politicians should have taken actions to protect the future for all Marylanders wanting to eat the resources the bay has to offer everyone.
 

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Wonder if DNR can request a Md State Police helicopter for those two days to help patrol the netters ?

Funny ( not ) how DNR was so concerned about PSCR trolling that before any real studies could be done - they instead went with what was said to be best for the fishery.

Seems to me - it would be common sense NOT TO REOPEN the gill net season right now. Far too many loose ends to ensure only 200,000 lbs get caught.

Only good thing coming out of all this - we are seeing who can be trusted and more importantly - who can not.

Friday looks like rain - perfect weather for poachers.
 

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So will that 12.5 tons be counted against anyone's quota? It is unclear to me. DNR wants to save 100s of jobs, great, what about the thousands of jobs created by recs? You guys gonna be buying Parkers and gassing them up to go fishing for spot in 2 years?
 

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Save hundreds of jobs??? What's up with that BS line, how is a two day gill net season going to save hundreds of jobs.

DNR is making a mistake..... They were doing the right thing, then they fell to political pressure....
 

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I'm disappointed in the decision too, although just opening it for two days with increased enforcement and additional monitoring are steps in the right direction. It's obviously going to take work at a level other than the advisory commission to get any meaningful change. If the answer to the three questions the commission asked is always going to be "no," then why is gill netting allowed?

• Is the illegal gill net fishing under control?
• Can a gill net fishery be effectively managed?
• Can the gill net fishery's catch be fully accounted for?
If you replace "gill net" with "recreational", do the answers truthfully change based on the system that is in place today?

 

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Rediculous!!!Ill bite my tounge this time.Bet theyll be on us like flies on sht in the preseason tho cause we all know thats whats diminishing the population right?
 
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