Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Good Start

Maryland Natural Resources Police arrest 13 since Jan. 1
Maryland Natural Resources Police have charged at least 13 watermen with illegal hunting, harvesting or poaching oysters since the new year, and it could get worse.

Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson said officers are on “high alert” this time of year. She said she remembered how busy nefarious watermen kept water patrol officers in 2014.

“This has season has been fairly active at this point,” Thomson said. “There are about 1,200 watermen out on oyster bars, coming on the last two months of the season. A lot of the bars are exhausted, fished out, the legal bars. So if you are going to continue to harvest oysters, the number of legal places is diminishing rapidly.
 Which is why they need to implement my oyster recovery plan ASAP. No more fishing on wild oysters for at least 5 year, preferably 10 to see if the oysters can replenish themselves.
“Now is when it ratchets up. … This is when it dog-eat-dog,” she continued.
If they really intend to stop illegal commercial fishing, they'll have to make sure there's a decent chance of being arrested and that the consequences are severe enough that it's not simply taken as another cost of doing business.
Money has been set aside in the state budget for two academy classes to add officers to the under-staffed Natural Resources Police. Thomson anticipates that a "large number" of police will be retiring in the next two or three years.
Progress on the first part. . .
Natural Resources Police found 32 bushels of illegally harvested oysters aboard a vessel belonging to Vaughn Edward Collins Jr., 44, of Nanticoke, and Kristopher Daniel Graves, 20, of Salisbury. Of the 32 bushels, four contained undersized oysters, according to the NRP Blotter . The two face a maximum fine of $6,000.
If actually imposed (only likely if they are repeat offenders, as many watermen are) that might be enough to make them think twice.

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