Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Going After 'Kingpin Poachers'

A state delegate from Annapolis wants to increase penalties for poachers with a proposal he's dubbing a "kingpin poachers" bill.
Following repeated discoveries of illegal fishing nets trapping 12 tons of rockfish in recent weeks, Del. Herb McMillan said he thinks current laws aren't doing enough to punish or deter poachers.

McMillan, R-Annapolis, plans to introduce the bill tomorrow.

"Right now, the punishment does not fit the crime," McMillan said.

He said first-time fish poachers could face a fine of up to $1,000. Second-time offenders can get a $2,000 fine and up to one year in jail, he said.

Fines of up to $1,500 per fish can be applied, but only if the poacher is caught with the fish in their possession, McMillan said.

McMillan's bill would set a maximum two-year prison term for any convicted poacher whose actions result in a capture of fish worth more than $20,000. He said the bill is written so that it would apply to cases like the recent ones, where the illegal fish were actually hauled in by police, not watermen.

The bill likely will have a mundane title like "large-scale striped bass poaching penalties," but McMillan has dubbed it the "kingpin poacher" bill because he's going after large-scale, intentional poachers.
It has long been noted that the fines and penalties meted out to repeat offender commercial fishermen amount to little more than a minor cost of doing business.  This bill would raise the ante considerably.  I expect Eastern Shore delegates to shoot this down momentarily...

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