Gibby Dean, president of the Chesapeake Bay Commercial Fishing Association and Tidal Fish member, said it was unfair to punish watermen for the actions of outlaws, who have netted 12.6 tons of fish in eight incidents since Jan. 30.Older post, and link to still older posts..
"Everyone says we're stealing from the natural resources. We're not. We're stealing from ourselves," said Dean. "When you shut a gill net season down, you're suspending the license of everyone."
UPDATE: MD DNR Announces reopening of gill net season
Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) moments ago announced that the 2011 commercial gill net season will be re-opened for two days, Friday, Feb. 25, and Monday, Feb. 28. The Department indicated opening the season for only two days would not threaten the fishing mortality rate nor would it risk the harvest going over the quota.
DNR had closed the season early in February after illegal nets were found in several locations resulting in the harvest of more than 10 tons of striped bass. Additional illegal nets and striped bass have been discovered since that announcement with the latest being Wednesday.
The Natural Resources Police will saturate waters on that Friday and Monday to check on compliance with the law, and DNR staff will monitor check-in stations where the striped bass are brought to the commercial market.
The Department also stated that recent events have shown there are issues that must be resolved in the gill net fishery and invited stakeholder groups, including the commercial industry, to develop reforms that would improve accountability.
“Naturally with the recent record of illegal activities in the gill net fishery we would have preferred that the season remained closed,” said CCA Maryland Executive Director Tony Friedrich. “However, the steps that both DNR and NRP are taking to enforce the law, reform the practice and protect the resource are positive. CCA MD looks forward to the process of reform, and will be watching closely to see whether future gill net fishing can be conducted in accordance with the law.”
Earlier this month CCA MD put forth a motion at the Sport Fish Advisory Commission meeting which was approved unanimously by the commissioners. The motion stated that the season should remain closed until the Department is able to conclusively demonstrate:
• that illegal gill net fishing is under control,
• that the fishery can be effectively managed, and
• that the fishery’s catch can be fully accounted for.
“The Department has looked closely at the concerns of the Sport Fish Advisory Commission, and we appreciate the consideration of the requests of these important stakeholders,” Friedrich said.