Maryland Considers Tougher Rules For Watermen Due To Poaching

KENT ISLAND, Md. (WJZ) — Finding and arresting outlaws on the water is forcing Maryland to consider tougher rules for watermen.  It all goes back to massive striped bass poaching this past winter.

Alex DeMetrick has a preview of what the state is proposing.

Poaching last winter hurt the bay’s honest watermen but measures to stop it will likely make their jobs harder.

When Natural Resources Police began pulling up nets illegally anchored to the bay’s bottom last winter, tons of striped bass were found dead or dying.

“They anchor it a day or two ahead of time, let the net catch 24 hours a day and then that net loads up with fish,” said Natural Resources Police Cpl. Roy Rafter.

So many fish, the season was cut short for honest watermen to protect a federal quota on the species and is now prompting tough recommendations.

“[The goal is to] absolutely ensure the striped bass harvest is accounted for and enforceable,” said Lynn Fegley, DNR Fisheries.

Tougher rules for all is what watermen worried about when the state vowed a crackdown on poachers.  DNR is recommending watermen now check in by phone before going out to net and then report back with their catch.  Nets would also have to carry a waterman’s identification and there would be increased fines for anyone caught poaching.

“The cost of getting caught is going to be more severe so it raises the stake if you want to break the rules,” Fegley said.

And for those that do, new surveillance tools using radar and video cameras will be scanning the bay.  That will link to those patrolling it to make life harder on poachers.

DNR will make its recommendations for tougher rules to a legislative committee on Wednesday.

DNR hopes to have those new regulations in effect by Dec. 1, when gill net season opens.

More from Alex DeMetrick
  • Davidjj1

    Holy Smoke, why did it take so long. These people are killing our bay. Do what it takes to end this destruction. Justice, time and a fine for one joint and waterman that steal our resources get a fine and seldom jail time. Stop dragging your feet and move on this fiasco.

  • Look Again

    Lets keep this in perspective. The poaching problem is not about weekend-boaters going out for fishing entertainment. Rather, it is about commercial fishing companies that have turned to illegal means to catch fish. The populations of striped bass and other species is declining rapidly, and as a result, watermen are going out of business in droves. Although there is no doubt that the illegal methods are killing a percentage of fish in the Bay, the real impact on fish numbers is imposed by chemical polutants dumped into Bay waters by industries that populate the coastal lines of the Bay. These industries provide huge revenue, collectively,to the state of Maryland, and others. Maryland protects these industries that inflict untold harm to the Bay, in exchange for the revenue that they provide. It is a vicious cycle, that has no realistic end in sight, since the economy is in the toilet, and Maryland is heavily dependent upon tax revenue income from these industries. The bottom line is that fishing is a huge industry as well, with most of the product being shipped daily to other states in the US. There is a method to the maddness, as it were. By showing the images of dead fish to the general public, most people are enraged, and insist that it be stopped. Thus, they become very supportive of any measures taken by the DNR to “fight” the problem. However the reality of it all, is that the dead fish shown in the photos are but a miniscule percentage of the fish that are poisoned and killed by industrial pollutants on an on-going basis each year. By tightening the leash on commercial watermen, and imposing strict regulations, they are able to justify higher fees and costs for licensing those fishermen (in the name of “Saving the Bay”). Thus, additional revenue is generated from an already struggling fishing industry, while the mega-profitable industries continue to squander the Bay in an indescriminate manner. It is time for folks to see the real issues that affect the Bay, and to not let a few pictures incite them to support yet another effort by the state to increase revenue at the expense of the working people. Yes, it is necessary to become furious, with regard to the rate of decimation of our Bay resources, but the anger needs to directed at the industries that impose 90% of the impact on our Bay. Be very angry, at Maryland’s “system” which has allowed these industries to dump their unwanted chemical wastes into our Bay for the last 70 years. The real issues that affect our Bay, are the ones that are not being shown to the general public via color photos on the net.


    pouching this iis a joke. The dead bay, there is barley anything living in it from all the pollution. Get serious, clean the bay, the harbor, the streams that lead into the bay. pouching is a lot of B-S

  • 1984

    The catch did not exceed the quota, so what is the big uproar about? Quit letting the Sunpaper and WJZ think for you, they are only trying to help cover the very illegal tactics of NRP and garner public support for them. Sneaking aboard boats in the middle of the night (24 boats) by NRP “officers” and drilling holes to mount secret tracking devices is a violation of rights. AND THEY STILL STRUCK OUT!!!

    You know nothing of how fishermen live and work except from biased media sources.

    • Bravo Bro

      @ 1984…You’ve got that right! We have become a nation of sheep, that gaze innocently at our televisions for what we are told to think next. If you want to “Save the Bay” just follow the money trail. By following the massive river of money upstream, you will find the real impact on your Bay. If there are no fish in your Bay, its because your government has traded the ecology for the revenue that it uses to govern you and your family.

  • Lowly leisure fisherman

    Solution? Simple. STOP GILL NETTING ALTOGETHER!!! Then ANY gill nets found are illegal. Save the stripers and save the taxpayer’s dollars. There’s no excuse for this ridiculous incompetence on the part of the DNR and the rest of our government. The only solution is the simple solution, but leave it to government to make something simple so complicated!

    • 1984

      If you knew anything you would know that rockfish populations are up, better than any summer I can remember, so the species was not threatened by any of this.

      The simple solution is to get NRP off thier fat rear ends riding in pickups and get out in their boats and monitor the fishermen.

      Stop gill netting??? Another Sun paper follower that wants rights taken from people.

      If you want to “save the bay”, try cleaning up that sh!thole of Baltimore City and urbanized areas.

  • Larry G Collier Jr

    They really think someones going to put there number on a net that’s going to be set illegally? This is Just another hoop too jump thru for the ones who play by the rules.

  • State Roundup, August 16, 2011 | Maryland News & Things to Do Blog

    […] REGS: Alex Demetrick of WJZ-TV explains measures that the state is proposing to stop the rockfish poaching that cut the fishing season short this past […]

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