Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Ravaged by Poachers

Poachers Looting Chesapeake Bay
This article reviews the amazing set of mass poaching events in the Chesapeake (which I documented in a long series of posts):
Since February, officers have hauled in more than 13 tons of illegally caught rockfish that has an estimated a value of about $128,000 on the retail market. NRP continues to search for whoever's responsible, and is offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Another haul of illegally caught fish included 6,000 pounds of fish tangled in illegal netting. NRP Cpl. Roy Rafter, who helped haul, said several nets were put together in well over a mile of netting.Rafter and his colleagues are also on the lookout for oyster poaching and illegal crab harvests. New research indicates Maryland's crab stock is more depleted than originally believed and will take longer to rebuild than expected.
And then sets up the scene for this winter's annual battle between the poachers and the Maryland Crab Cops  (as they are sometimes called):
Laws that took effect this year impose stiffer fines, provide more jail time and give police the authority to revoke fishing licenses. NRP said poachers know there are few officers available to patrol 17,000 miles of shoreline.
 I like this comparison:
The DNR isn't just looking for the big illegal hauls. In 2008, they charged as many as 43 percent of all the licensed watermen with violating the state's commercial fishing laws.
Then, just a few paragraphs later, they throw this bone to the watermen:
An overwhelming majority of commercial fishermen do not condone any form of illegal fishing activity.
If they actually caught 43% of watermen poaching in one year, I would guess the actual number is well over 50% (They can't all get caught, right?).  So, I would say, yes, the overwhelming majority of watermen do condone poaching.

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