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Old 05-07-2005, 04:34 AM
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Default More Poachers nabbed

Marine Patrol Nabs La. Menhaden Boat With Stripers
The N.C. Marine Patrol, the enforcement arm of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, cited the entire crew of a
Louisiana menhaden factory boat Dec. 28, 2004, for the illegal netting and filleting of striped bass.

(PRWEB) January 26, 2005 -- The N.C. Marine Patrol, the enforcement arm of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, cited the entire crew of a Louisiana menhaden factory boat Dec. 28, 2004, for the illegal netting and filleting of striped bass.
A striper angler at the scene told North Carolina Sportsman approximately two dozen recreational boats were fishing ?between the Cape Lookout jetties and the Dead Tree Hole (off Shackleford Banks). First, a (menhaden boat) spotter plane shows up, then the factory boat, and it dropped off a (purse-seine) boat.

?(The purse-seine boat) used a net to make a circle (around the menhaden school), then tightened it down. Then the factory boat came alongside and sucked up the menhaden with a big vacuum hose.?
During that process, anglers saw workers tossing striped bass, that had been feeding on the menhaden, out of the nets. One of the recreational anglers called the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Marine Patrol.
?Yes, we got a call from one of (the striper anglers),? Capt. Steve Anthony said. ?We always appreciate any calls (the fishing public makes to the Patrol). It works out well for everybody.?
Within a few minutes and after a MP helicopter, piloted by CWO Rock Newman, had surveyed the menhaden boat?s netting operation, a DMF vessel, captained by Sgt. Herb Orama, arrived with officers Mitch Stone, Brian Gillis and two Coast Guardsmen from Fort Macon.
?The helicopter pilot saw big stripers on the deck of the boat,? Sgt. Orama said. ?He called me while we were checking another (factory) boat.?
?(Marine Patrol officers) boarded the boat and stayed on it for two hours at least,? the striper angler said. ?They ended up writing 24 violations. They wrote everyone on the boat a ticket for illegal possession of striped bass and possessing mutilated finfish.?
Col. Joe Lynch, head of the Marine Patrol, confirmed the angler?s account.
?They had 13 whole striped bass on the boat, a couple of tails and some fillets,? he said. ?The boat, the Albert J. Bourg, had 12 members including the captain. Each crew member received two citations. The boat has a Louisiana homeport.?
Menhaden factory boats working N.C. waters are usually in the employ of Beaufort Fisheries of Beaufort or Houston, Texas-based Omega Protein.
Lynch said the officers also checked a Mississippi menhaden boat, the Grand Batture, but found no violations.
Orama estimated the stripers ranged in size from 15 to 35 pounds.
The Bourg?s crew used gaffs to remove stripers from the purse seines.
?They were going to eat the stripers,? Sgt. Orama said. ?The captain said he didn?t realize they couldn?t keep striped bass.?
Orama said a regulation allows commercial boat crews to keep 1 percent of their catch for personal consumption, but that rule doesn?t apply to striped bass.
?First, the (netting) season?s closed and second, no one can take stripers with purse seines, only gill nets,? Orama said.
The DMF had set a Jan. 4-5 gill-netting season for ocean stripers with two additional days, Jan. 11-12, to be added if the poundage quota wasn?t reached Jan. 4-5.
In addition to a fine for possessing stripers illegally, Lynch said the menhaden boat crew, if found guilty, could pay replacement costs for each dead fish.
?The total fine, if they plead guilty or are found guilty, will depend on how serious the judge is,? Lynch said. ?(The fine) would be based on a per-pound fee.?
The recreational striper angler said the purse-seine boats didn?t encircle any sport-fishing boats while setting their nets.
?They made small circles to avoid that,? he said. ?But if we weren?t there, they would have made a larger set. If we hadn?t been there, you wonder how many stripers, red drum or whatever else they might have netted (in the bycatch). Even though they didn?t encircle us, the impression was terrible. You have these two huge boats come in where you?re fishing and put out nets and seem to catch everything.?
The recreational angler said the best aspect of the incident was the Marine Patrol?s quick response.
?It was super quick,? he said. ?(Recreational striper anglers) were impressed with how quickly (the arrest) went down.?
For the latest in outdoor features, news and columns, subscribe to North Carolina Sportsman magazine by calling (800) 538-4355 or visiting www.northcarolinasportsman.com.

By Craig Holt
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