KENT ISLAND, Md. (WJZ) — Poachers took tons of striped bass from the bay at the beginning of the month, forcing the closure of the gill net season. That put honest watermen out of work.
Alex DeMetrick reports the season will now reopen for just two days, even as more poached fish are discovered.
Using a grappling hook and experience, Natural Resources Police found 400 more pounds of illegally netted striped bass Wednesday, bringing to 12 tons the amount seized from poachers who anchor their nets to the bay’s bottom.
“They anchor it a day or two ahead of time, let that net catch 24 hours a day and then it loads up with fish,” said Natural Resources Police Cpl. Roy Rafter.
Because the bay is the East Coast spawning ground for striped bass, there is a quota for legal gill netting. Fearing the amount poachers were taking, the state closed the season down after just two days. But with 200,000 pounds still left in that seasonal quota, it is being reopened for two days.
But it doesn’t help watermen like Chuck Clark much. Removing a damaged net, he’ll be going out Friday and next Monday for striped bass and then that’s it.
“I don’t feel like we’re going to catch the whole 200,000 pounds,” said waterman Chuck Clark.
“Hopefully we’ll get good money for them ’cause the young crews have house payments and car payments and insurance,” said Don Pierce.
Starting Friday, Natural Resources Police will also be stepping up patrols, looking for poachers who use honest watermen for cover. Presence will also be increased at check-in stations.