The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is continuing to step up enforcement to stop commercial and recreational fishermen from illegally catching striped bass and punishing offenders to the fullest extent of the law. Officers have charged numerous individuals with catching undersize striped bass in the past month.
“While our State, our partners and our citizens diligently work to restore and protect the Bay and use our resources responsibly, a few bad apples make it difficult for everyone,” said Secretary John Griffin. “Our new progressive penalty system allows for the just and due penalization of those who repeatedly show blatant disregard for our natural resources.”
NRP recently charged the following recreational fisherman with these violations:
- On August 28, NRP charged Lester Melendez Dominguez, 28 and Obed Jonatan Sanchez Rivera, 29 both from Hyattsville, each with possession of 10 undersize striped bass. The violation occurred at Kent Narrows. A court date has been set for October 17, in the District of Maryland for Queen Anne County.
- On August 31, NRP charged Jose Adalberto Zelaya-Rivas, 43 for possession of 11 undersize striped bass and possession of nine striped bass over the limit. The violation occurred on the Choptank River. A court date has been set for November 21, in the District of Maryland for Dorchester County.
- On September 2, NRP charged Jose A. Gonzalez, 32 from Takoma Park for possession of 18 undersize striped bass. The violation occurred at Terrapin Park in Queen Anne’s County. A court date has been set for November 14 in the District of Maryland for Queen Anne County.
- On September 2, NRP charged Efrain Guerra, 30, Victorino Gonzalez Hernandez, 29, and Selvin Noel Rudriquez Sr., 24 all from Laurel, Md. with possession of 237 undersize striped bass. The violation occurred at Kent Narrows. A court date has been set for November 7 in the District of Maryland for Queen Anne County.
- On September 8, NRP charged Roger Mauricio Nolasco Portillo, 28 from Washington DC, with possession of 20 undersize striped bass and exceeding the daily catch limit of striped bass. The violation occurred at Romancoke Pier. The court date has been set for November 7 in the District of Maryland for Queen Anne County.
- On September 15, NRP charged Brenda Adali Villagran Acevedo, 40 from Hyattsville with possession of 11 undersize striped bass and exceeding the daily catch limits. The violation occurred at Kent Narrows. A court date has been set for November 7 in the District of Maryland for Queen Anne County.
The above individuals face a maximum fine of $1,500 per offense plus an additional fine of $1,500 per fish for the first offense. If found guilty, the anglers’ licenses could be suspended for one year.
In the midst of these incidents, on the morning of September 20, NRP recovered an old gill net from the Chesapeake Bay near Bloody Point. A recreational fisherman discovered the net when his fishing gear became entangled in it. It was one-half mile in length and did not have any markings to indicate who it belonged to. Barnacles covered the net and it contained decaying aluminum cans, a result of having been in the water for a long time. It also contained a few crabs, horseshoe crabs and menhaden. NRP pulled it out of the water with the help of DNR’s buoy tender, MV Sandusky.
The net was in the same area of the Chesapeake Bay where NRP recovered nearly 10,000 yards of illegal, anchored gillnet containing almost 16 tons of striped bass in February 2011. NRP has since stepped up patrols and enforcement leading to more violations cited for both recreational and commercial fisherman.
DNR has worked collaboratively with industry leaders over the past several years to develop an appropriate penalty system to ensure that those who choose to continue to violate the fisheries laws and regulations of the state will progressively lose their privilege to make a living harvesting the precious fisheries resources in Maryland. These agency actions are the result of this collaborative effort and fine work of the Natural Resources Police and the Office of the Attorney General.
Under Governor Martin O’Malley’s leadership, increased law enforcement is part of an overall effort to deter poaching and toughen penalties for those who violate fishing laws in Maryland, under the Fisheries Management Reform Act of 2007. A noteworthy part of this effort is the launch of fresh enforcement initiatives and enhancements including the installation of a network of radar and camera units to assist the NRP in monitoring sensitive areas that are prone to poaching. DNR, the Office of the Attorney General and the District Court of Maryland have also expanded a successful program that sets aside specific days to try only cases dealing with natural resources violations.
Citizens are urged to call 800-628-9944 to the Maryland Natural Resources Police Communication Center to report conservation violations, maritime emergencies and law enforcement issues on the Chesapeake Bay and DNR controlled lands.
Image courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources