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Poaching in Maryland Virginia and North Carolina. Winter of Discontent Ban the gill nets and trawling as a means of catching fish Coast wide. Trawlers Poaching in Maryland Virginia and North Carolina. - the Roanoke the Chesapeake and trawlers on the outer bankks. News - commentaries- links to committees and legal recourse.

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Old 02-12-2011, 03:46 PM
archiver archiver is offline
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Default Total of 10 tons of illegally caught striped bass found over three days

By Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun
7:27 p.m. EST, February 2, 2011

For the second consecutive day, Natural Resources Police officers pulled illegal nets from the Chesapeake Bay Wednesday filled to the brim with striped bass.
In total, they have seized 10 tons of illegally caught fish, the largest haul of its type since the end of the rockfish moratorium more than two decades ago.
After detecting poachers' nets Monday night, patrol boats with grappling hooks snagged nets near Bloody Point at the southern tip of Kent Island Tuesday morning, Tuesday night and again Wednesday afternoon. They pulled up 2.8 tons, 3.5 tons and 3.5 tons.
In addition, an officer found a 2,100-yard submerged net Sunday in the Choptank River. It had just three fish in it, indicating it had been freshly set.
The commercial gill net season opened Tuesday. Marked nets that float and are monitored by fisherman are legal; hidden, anchored nets are not.
"We're going back out at first light," said NRP Sgt. Art Windemuth. "We've got officers who have been reassigned, working 18 hours a day. Any place that has water, we're looking."
While the investigation continues, Windemuth acknowledges they don't know who set these nets and may never know.
The discovery has unleashed a firestorm of criticism from fisheries regulators and the conservation and recreational communities.
Ed Liccione, chairman of the 1,400-member Coastal Conservation Association Maryland, called the total "jaw-dropping" and vowed to ask the General Assembly for a ban on nets if the commercial industry doesn't "get its own house in order."
Yesterday, the Maryland Watermen's Association added its voice to the call for action and begged watermen to turn in the renegades.
"It's just a handful of bad apples. They're out of control," said Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen's Association. "They don't think the laws apply to them. It's not fair to the guys who do this honestly."
Poachers flood the market early in the season, causing a drop in prices. In addition, the fish seized by NRP are weighed and counting against the monthly quota. The February quota is 415,359 pounds.
Simns said fed-up watermen have been tipping NRP to the locations of nets.
"It's hard to catch them red-handed, but I think they will," he said. "It's only a matter of time."
Striped bass is the state fish and the Chesapeake Bay is the spawning ground and nursery for about 75 percent of the stock on the Eastern Seaboard. Decades of overfishing led to a five-year fishing moratorium that ended in 1990 to give the population a chance to rebound. As a result, what happens in Maryland is of interest up and down the coast.
Fishing websites are filled with the news of NRP's bust and Fisheries Service Director Tom O'Connell said he got a call from the head of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Service, the regional regulatory authority which sets Maryland's striped bass quota, asking for an update.
Despite toughening regulations and penalties last year and creating with a district court a pilot program to hear natural resources cases exclusively in Annapolis, O'Connell said the poaching issue will have to be revisited.
"It's become clear that the penalty isn't strong enough to deter this kind of action," O'Connell said. "We are in discussions now about legislation."
Recreational fishing groups stand ready to lobby for those changes.
Dave Smith, executive director of the 7,000-member Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, said, "This has got to stop."
"Recreational anglers have to get together and go to the General Assembly and say 'Let's get serious,'" he said.
Drifting gill nets are legal in Maryland waters from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28. Watermen must mark their nets and be within two miles of them. The Department of Natural Resources can close the season early if its appears watermen are going to exceed their monthly quota. This year, the season closed on Jan. 17 and reopened on Feb. 1.
Anchored gill nets — more efficient and deadly and harder to detect — have been illegal since 1985.
If convicted, poachers can be fined $1,000 for a first offense plus $1,500 per each striped bass. The state's points and penalties system for watermen, which took effect last February, could result in license suspensions or revocations.
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Old 02-12-2011, 04:24 PM
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Striperjim Striperjim is offline
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Default Re: Total of 10 tons of illegally caught striped bass found over three days

Ban all nets larger than 6 feet. Period!!!
We need to completely eliminate trawling as a permissible fishing gear for striped bass. Otherwise there will be no choice but to ask that these fish be designated a gamefish and removed from the market entirely.
The past six months have been filled with bad news for striped bass. In addition to the slaughters off North Carolina, Maryland state officials pulled the plug last week on the state's gillnet season after thousands of pounds of dead bass were pulled from illegal nets in the Chesapeake Bay.
The NC MFC should have followed suit and closed the trawl fishery at the first sign of wanton waste. Also, earlier this year, anglers and conservationists all along the East Coast narrowly beat back plans to increase the commercial harvest of striped bass, citing problems with the stock related to rampant poaching and disease in the species primary nursery ground, Chesapeake Bay.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:51 AM
chapinfisherman chapinfisherman is offline
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Default Re: Total of 10 tons of illegally caught striped bass found over three days

wow that is crazy
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:23 AM
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JakeF JakeF is offline
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Default Re: Total of 10 tons of illegally caught striped bass found over three days

To top it off, there are NO recreational voices on the ASMFC Advisory Panel from either North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, or Pennsylvania.

Why is that? Is it because there are no recreational fishermen in those states who are capable of filling those vacancies? Is it because none of those qualified have chosen to step up? Is it because the Management Board is ignoring applications that they have received? Your guess is as good as mine.

One thing is for sure. We MUST make a concerted effort to be heard on these issues, and to fight for the good of the fish we all love. We MUST fight to remove the overwhelming greed of the coastal commercial striped bass fishery from the equation entirely.

Those of us who are choosing to be proactive and trying to make a real difference are probably still too few to get the job done unless YOU back us up. The recreational fishermen MUST get off of our collective arses, show up at meetings & hearings, fill the voids on the boards and panels that have been put in place to represent us, and work together to educate others to the peril that faces the striped bass fishery if we do not get our act together and fix these problems once and for all.
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