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.

Comments (12)
  1. truth teller says:

    Typical cowardice on NRP’s part. If they knew of waterman acting illegally, why not serve them with papers and require they install the devices. What NRP did was sneak on board vessels in the night and damaged them when they installed mounting devices for the GPS. NRP are nothing more than cowards and thieves, which is why they will not comment.

  2. pednik says:

    Judging by Mr. Prices record of natural resource violations, it would seem that NRP is simply being efficient. And, it would appear that NRP had enough evidence to get a local Eastern Shore judge to sign a warrant for the installation of the device. Perhaps truth teller would have us return to the days of the oyster wars, arming vessels and going mano-a-mano on the high seas. As far as the theives, comment, I fail to see in the story where NRP stole anything, unless you are referring to the 10 tons of stolen striped bass they recovered on behalf of the residents of MD. I also notice, Mr. Truth Teller, that you do not use your own name. Does that make you a coward?

    1. truth teller says:

      Where is your real name, Pednik? If Mr. Price’s record warrants the use of the device, then they should have made him install it, not SNEAK aboard his boat, drill holes to install it themselves in THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Quit letting the Sun paper do your thinking. Simply being efficient, isn’t that how Nazi Germany exterminated Jews? We are supposed to have rights, but not in Maryland. If the cops snuck a device on your vehicle without court order (note that the story says court orders are obtained for the ongoing investigation, not what they did prior) you would feel violated.

  3. MIKE N. says:

    I know very little about fish {except they taste good } . I read the artical in the sun about the recovered fish. The sun said the nrp was going to sell the fish and use the money to get more equipment. Why don’t they lset the fish free ?Is it something to do with the way they are cought ?

  4. pednik says:

    Gill nets basically drown the fish after some time by entangling their gills.

  5. j b says:

    yes the watermen were wrong in fishing this way but they are hard working americans that pay taxes and are losing their heritage. I am a waterman and we look forward to december january and february because it is our most profitable time of year. This season we have had 14 days to work for 3 months. Rockfish is a recovered species and the law needs to focus more on breaking up the drug ring and let us work. As if the economy isn’t bad enough they are trying to put hindreds of waterman out of work. How is that going to help our country recover from the recession we are in?

  6. pednik says:

    jb, I want the watermen to make a good living and preserve their way of life. But you boys got to clean your own house. Y’all know who is doing this. They are stealing from you and yours. Taking food out of your families mouth, and ensuring that the days of being able to make a living as a waterman in MD are numbered. Why the fraternity protects them I have no idea, it makes it real hard to generate a lot of sympathy for your cause. There are millions of hard working Americans out there struggling who are not breaking the law, why should a waterman get a pass? Your defensiveness of these thieves is distressing and hard to understand.

  7. MIKE N. says:

    Part two… can the nrp sell dead fish ?

  8. pednik says:

    Mike-same way the grocery store does. Water temps are lower than most refrigerators right now, as long as the fish are cleaned(gutted) within a reasonable amount of time, they are fine for sale. Consumption is another matter. Are you familiar with the striped bass consumption advisories put out by the state health dept.? Probably not, they only print them in the fishing license guide. Due to politics, you will never see these advisories at the seafood counter. These fish are full of mycobacteria(up to 80% of the population, do a google search on myco in the Chesapeake bay). They are also full of heavy metals and other nastiness. A lot of commercially sold rockfish are netted right out of the Baltimore Harbor. Yum!!!!

  9. mark says:

    They were wrong for fishing that way?! Hell yeah they were. 2300 yard anchored nets! They are not losing their heritage they are preserving their lying, stealing ways. There stealing the heritage from the waterman that follow the true “heritage”! The nrp is trying to put anyone out of work. You being a fisherman I’m sure your aware of the quota. These poachers are putting the moral fisherman out of work! Your so wrong on so many levels. Your probably participating in the poaching being so defensive

  10. Gary says:

    I am not comfortable with the implications of hiding these devices, but I hope legal channels were followed. Check out Dean Price’s record at the Maryland judiciary case search. It is disgusting, he should not wonder why one of those wound up on his boat.

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