The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will reopen the February striped bass gill net fishery on Friday, February 25, and Monday, February 28; all normal harvest restrictions will remain in effect. An estimated 200,000 pounds of the State’s February quota remains to be harvested.
The fishery has been closed since February 4, after 10 tons of illegally captured rockfish were confiscated from the Chesapeake Bay south of Kent Island. In all, 12.5 tons of illegally captured rockfish have been found by Natural Resources Police in February.
Maryland’s commercial striped bass fishery is managed on a quota system, in cooperation with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; commercial and recreational restrictions are used to keep the harvest at or below a target fishing mortality rate. Maryland’s commercial gill net quota for February is 354,318 pounds; the State’s annual commercial quota is 2 million pounds.
“During these two days, Natural Resources Police operations will be stepped up significantly through increased patrols, additional staff at check stations, and the use of our new electronic monitoring capabilities,” said Col. George Johnson, Natural Resources Police Superintendent.
On February 1, Natural Resources Police confiscated the first of four illegally anchored gill nets with more than 20,000 pounds of striped bass near Bloody Point Light, south of Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay, forcing the immediate closure of the fishery. On February 11, NRP located additional illegally anchored gill nets containing 3,879 pounds of rockfish – nets officers believe were set after the shut down of the fishery on February 4. Legal sized fish were sold to wholesalers and under and over-sized fish were donated to help feed citizens in need.
Maryland’s DNR is now offering a $30,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the striped bass poaching activities uncovered on January 31-February 1. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Savers, Maryland Charter Boat Association, Maryland Coastal Conservation Association, Maryland Saltwater Sportfisherman’s Association Maryland Watermen’s Association, and private citizens have all contributed toward the reward.
source: MD DNR