ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Ten tons and counting. That’s the amount of poached striped bass seized by police in waters near the Bay Bridge. Investigators won’t specifically say how they’re finding these illegal hauls.
Alex DeMetrick reports a new high-tech tool may be playing a part.
No matter how much horsepower, Maryland Natural Resources Police have a lot of bay to patrol.
Finding underwater gill nets anchored to the bottom would seem next to impossible, but this week, that kind of illegal poaching was busted, turning up 10 tons of striped bass.
“Based on the information that comes to us, we react to it,” said Col. George Johnson IV, NRP superintendent.
A small GPS tracking device may have helped provide the information.
Waterman Dean Price found the devices hidden on his boat in Dorchester County.
“I never seen anything like it, and I’m just learning as I go,” Price said. “Just trying to figure out what is going on.”
Maryland Watermen’s Association President Larry Simns believes Natural Resources Police are using the devices.
“I think that’s what it’s for, trying to catch us, trying to figure out where they had illegal nets at,” Simns said. “If they had a court order that says they are able to do it, then I don’t have a problem with it.”
Tracking might be happening at a new bay surveillance system.
Police said Wednesday that the system wasn’t used for the gill net busts, but as for it’s potential . . .
“We can focus our cameras on that location and follow the boat movement,” said Johnson.
At least half a dozen other boats have found the mounting brackets, although not the devices.
Price found the device and wants police to explain why it was on his boat. Price has not been charged with any crime related to the current poaching.
Meanwhile, whoever is doing it is having an impact.
“They’re stealing from the other watermen, so we need to break this poaching up,” Simns said.
A spokesman for Natural Resources Police refused to comment on the devices, but did say court orders have been obtained for the ongoing investigation.