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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 02-14-2011, 06:13 PM
archiver archiver is offline
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Default More rockfish found in nets in Eastern Chesapeake Bay

More rockfish found in nets in Eastern Bay

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Posted: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 6:06 pm | Updated: 6:53 pm, Sun Feb 13, 2011.
More rockfish found in nets in Eastern Bay By Jack Shaum and Chris Knauss Special to the Whig Cecil Whig

BLOODY POINT - More illegally anchored gill nets containing rockfish have been found on the floor of the Chesapeake Bay near where 10 tons of illegally caught fish were recovered last week.
Natural Resources Police discovered a series of nets stretching 1,200 yards Monday about a mile south of Bloody Point, where 20,016 pounds of the official state fish were recovered last week, NRP spokesman Sgt. Art Windemuth said Tuesday.
"They contained 1,159 pounds of rockfish," Windemuth said of the most recent discovery.
Another 600 yards of illegally anchored gill net were found near Poplar Island on Monday. Those nets contained about 300 dead horseshoe crabs and a few live rockfish, which were released.
"These violations are a shameful theft of the public trust, impacting a fishery we have worked long and hard to restore, our law-abiding watermen, and our sister states that share this important resource," Gov. Martin O'Malley said Tuesday.
Following last week's discovery, DNR closed the February rockfish gill net season after the illegally harvested fish were deducted from the February quota of 354,318 pounds.
"Watermen are allowed to catch about 300 pounds of rockfish per day," DNR Fisheries Service Director Tom O'Connell said. "We seized 20,000 pounds (of illegally caught fish). That means these poachers are stealing 66 days of work from honest watermen."
Most of the recovered fish could not be released because they were so stressed that they would not survive, Windemuth said.
Instead, they were sold to seafood markets with the proceeds eventually to be used to purchase law enforcement equipment. Rockfish that were not market size were donated to shelters and food banks.
Windemuth said Natural Resources Police have stepped up their patrols since last week and are increasingly on the lookout for additional poaching operations.
A 100-yard, illegally anchored net was found near Love Point at the mouth of the Chester River on Thursday but did not contain any fish. Another was found in the Choptank River, but contained only a few fish.
Floating gill nets that hang vertically are legal in Maryland. Those nets are visible on the surface and are generally attended by a waterman no more than a mile away. Illegal gill nets are anchored to the bottom by weights and are not visible from the surface.
NRP Superintendent Col. George Johnson said poachers often set illegal nets at night prior to the start of the season and then harvest the fish during the season so that their activity appears to be legal.
Deputy DNR Secretary Joe Gill said there are about 200 active gill net fishermen in Maryland and he thinks some of them may know who did this.
"We can only do this with the help of the watermen's community," he said. "We want to clean this up, so this doesn't happen again."
Windemuth said Tuesday there is no way of telling whether the same person set all the nets. He said none of them had identification numbers required on legal nets.
Windemuth said NRP has received some anonymous information through its Catch-A-Poacher Hotline at 1-800-635-6124.
The agency also offered a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. That reward is now set at $10,000.
A $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case has been posted by DNR, the Maryland Watermen's Association, the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, the Maryland Charter Boat Association, and the Coastal Conservation Association, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Humane Society of the United States.

(AP Photo/Maryland Natural Resources Police Office) In this undated photo provided by Maryland Natural Resources Police, Maryland Natural Resources Police Officers remove some of the estimated 6,000 pounds of rockfish, or striped bass, from 900 yards of illegally anchored gill nets that were found on Jan. 31, and seized on Feb. 1, from the Chesapeake Bay near Bloody Pt light.
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