Maryland. Commercial season poaching enforcement
NRP seized approximately 16,500 yards of illegally anchored gill (approximately 55 nets) and 3,200 lbs. of rockfish during the last week and half of February. The nets were seized as officers patrolled the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in search of illegal poaching activity.
Licensed commercial watermen are allowed to fish only attended drift gillnets when catching striped bass. Attended drift gill nets are nets that float vertically in the water column and move with the currents of the water. The fish are caught by the gills as they swim into the net. The watermen must remain with in a 1 mile radius of nets in the tributaries and within 2 miles of nets in the main bay. This attention to the net ensures that non targeted species can be removed from the net and released. The seized nets were found anchored and unattended.
NRP makes the removal of the illegal nets a priority. These nets continue to catch all species of fish and other aquatic creatures as long as they remain in the water. The seized nets were found to contain not only rockfish but dead diving ducks and loons.
The commercial striped bass gill net fisheries are held in the months of December, January and February.
Five hundred pounds of the recovered fish were donated to the Joseph House in Salisbury and the remainder was sold.
Under changes to law made by the General Assembly in 2009,an individual, if convicted, could face up to $1000 for a first offense and up to $2000 for each subsequent offense. Additionally, on February 22, 2010, the Department’s new commercial fishing points and suspension system took effect. If convicted, these individuals could face additional penalties in the form of points on their license resulting in license suspensions. Offenses for convictions of possessing mutilated fish whose size and weight cannot be determined are given 5 points each with 30 day suspensions applying to any licensee with at least 10 points. Suspensions increase as the number of points increases on a license. Suspensions, regardless of points, for egregious violations are maintained in this new system and still include provisions of 180 to 365 day suspensions for harvesting oysters more than 2 hours outside of the designated time.