“The amount of rotting and dead fish in the net recovered yesterday raises a number of questions about the commercial gill net fishery,” said Tony Friedrich, CCA MD executive director. “The first question is what this continued illegal commercial activity will do to the fishery. These ghost nets clearly continue killing after being abandoned. The end of the legal season coincides with the start of the spawning run. Can we afford to have these abandoned ghost nets in the bay? "Stop the gill netting now.
“Secondly, is the cost of the managing the gill net industry. This recovery effort required two days use of the M/V Sandusky and three days of work by the NRP. Earlier in February, NRP officers spent numerous days on the water, and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff supervised check-in stations—all to assure that additional illegal activity did not occur. It’s not right to expect Maryland taxpayers to foot this bill because the commercial industry cannot respect the law."
“Finally, we are seeing that when gill nets are deployed illegally, it’s not a clean fishery. The net found this week, in addition to the 6,750 pounds of striped bass, captured a sturgeon and an earlier illegal net contained sea ducks both of which are federally protected. So, these nets are not just catching their intended target.
“What is especially troubling is the blatant disregard for the resource these individuals are showing. Many of the fish in the net recovered yesterday were rotting while others appeared to be freshly caught. Additionally, the sturgeon was alive and released. It’s reasonable to believe that the net was set early in the year, and when the illegal netting was discovered by NPR, the owner of this net chose not to recover his gear. He simply left the net in place to kill more fish, rather than risk being caught while removing it.”
Friedrich again commended the NRP and DNR for their “determined commitment” to stop this illegal activity.
These discoveries highlight the importance of the study of the commercial gill net fishery’s management structure and viability announced in February by DNR Secretary John Griffin. The Secretary also said that if the commercial industry didn’t help police itself, the state would need to consider whether or not to phase out gill nets in the bay. Those responsible for these nets and those who may have known about them could have anonymously reported their location to the NRP long ago. Regrettably, they decided not to do that, allowing these nets to catch and kill for months.
Friedrich again urged anyone with information on illegal gill nets to contact DNR. There is now a reward of $30,500 being offered for leads that result in finding the perpetrators. The poacher hotline is 1.800.635.6124
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Dead Fish in Net Update - New Net Found!
News from an E-mail alert from Coastal Conservation Association that the net found in the waters off Tilghman Island on Sunday, May 2, was finally recovered. The net was 1400 yards long, and contained about 7,000 lbs of dead rockfish. In addition, another net was found about a mile from the first. It has been marked and is scheduled for removal later this week. Photo's and videos here: Photos Video 1 Video 2 Video 3 Video 4