KENT ISLAND, Md. (WJZ) — Tons of rockfish worth thousands of dollars were seized Tuesday by Natural Resources Police.
Suzanne Collins was there when the illegal catch was brought to shore.
Three tons of rockfish were seized, trapped days before the official start of the legal rockfish season.
Natural Resources Police say they found the gill net illegally anchored just south of the Bloody Point lighthouse.
The investigation began late Monday night. Police endured freezing rain to stake out the poacher.
“They anchor it a day or two ahead of time, let that net catch 24 hours a day and load up with fish. Then they come out at 3 a.m., legal starting time and pull that net aboard,” said Sgt. Art Windemuth. “By 7 a.m., when nobody had fished the net, we came and pulled it out ourselves.”
The three tons of fish seized would have brought $12,000 profit. If they find the culprits, they will be arrested.
“They can face a fine of $2,000 or a year in jail,” said Windemuth.
Natural Resources Police say they can’t be everywhere at once and these nets are often put in a very remote place. They are asking the public’s help calling in tips.
“This resource belongs to everybody and it’s up to everybody to get involved to protect it, not just for this generation but for future generations,” Windemuth said.
Natural Resources Police say there are only a few bad guys, but they spoil it for fishermen who play by the rules.
The rockfish that were still alive could not be thrown back because they lost a protective coating on their scales when they were caught in the net.