By Alex DeMetrick

KENT ISLAND, Md. (WJZ) — There has been another big poaching bust in the bay.  Two tons of illegally harvested striped bass have been seized.  That’s on top of the three tons found Tuesday.

Alex DeMetrick reports that’s a catch that cuts into the incomes of watermen who fish by the rules.

Natural Resources Police carried striped bass by the buckets.  Four thousand pounds worth were trapped in gill nets anchored to the bottom of the Chesapeake near the Bay Bridge. 

“There are certain outlaws that are the ones that are doing it and the watermen who are doing it legitimately, it’s affecting them,” said Natural Resources Police Cpl. Roy Rafter.

Those who use gill nets the right way don’t leave them anchored; they’re worked all day.  What they catch legally is deducted from a season quota of 350,000 pounds.  But the fish found in illegal netting is also being deducted from that quota, and that hurts those who fish according to the law.

“It certainly does.  It reduces the amount they can harvest themselves,” said Sgt. Art Windemuth, adding that cuts into their income.

Watermen who harvest oysters legally also struggle against poachers, but with oyster poaching, police at least have a boat to zero in on. 

“Some guys get desperate, I guess,” said waterman Robby Witt.

Illegal gill nets can sit undetected for days.

Tips and luck have netted the fish, but so far, the poachers are the ones who got away.

The largest fish seized by Natural Resources Police will go to homeless shelters.  The rest will be sold and the money used to buy police needed equipment.


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