Maybe, just maybe it's time for the Department of Natural Resources to ask the General Assembly for the authorization and money to establish state-run check stations for commercial catches.Indeed, and I have said this before, watermen aren't poaching for rockfish fun, or to take a few home to eat (although they likely do this as well), they do it for the cash. Find a way to get between the poacher and his cash, and the motive for poaching is gone. Then gill netting just becomes cold, laborious, and smelly work.
The entire system is a busted mess, as indicated by the latest poaching ring--and I have to believe it's a collaborative effort involving some serious manpower and some rather large boats.
State lawmakers tut-tut about the problem and introduce bills to crack down on illegal fishing, but they do nothing to hire more Natural Resources Police officers or put the screws to the folks who traffic in illegally caught fish.
If we learned anything from the hugely successful state-federal sting last year that convicted 19 men and three corporations involved in a interstate striped bass black market is that the only way to fix things is to cut off the demand.
If watermen have no place to sell their illegal fish, they won't bother catching them...
Previous posts on the gill net poaching here, here, here and here.