Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Criminal Crabbing Doubles in Virginia

Increase in violations of crabbing regulations
The violation officials say what they see most frequently is taking crabs that are too small.

Officers use a cull stick to measure the adult male crabs. From point to point, those crabs have to be at least five inches long to be a legal catch. Officers take the cull sticks on the boat and look at the pots to make sure everything meets the requirements.
. . .
In 2013, there were 70 arrests for violations and 53 convictions. Last year, both numbers about doubled with 132 arrests and 118 convictions for violating the law.

Most people might not realize these are actual state laws. If you violate, you'll be going to court facing a fine, license suspension and -- for habitual offenders -- the possibility of jail time.
Wow! That's a pretty big increase in a crime over 2 years. I can't imagine what would make watermen more willing to risk the violations unless there significant problems finding enough crabs to fill their quotas. Or the fish cops are trying harder.

After commercial fishing a few times last year, I can see how a few marginally undersized fish (or crabs) can sneak by with all the rush to pull pots, rebait and reset the pots. But I don't see the problem getting twice as bad in two years. Hopefully increased enforcement is the answer, and not increased cheating.

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