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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Folks,
I received several emails regarding this (Tautog) black market news.

Just when you are disturbed by the 63% blackfish reduction (recommendation)? I read this report?

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Feb. 2, 2002
PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY NEWS
By JACK KASKEY

OCEAN CITY - Surveillance of an Ocean City party boat this week led to what state enforcement officials are calling the largest seizure of illegal blackfish since regulations to protect the popular fish took effect eight years ago.

Seven New Yorkers plus the captain and the owner of the North Star are charged with catching more than 550 pounds of illegal blackfish, also called tautog or tog, said Capt. Joseph Meyer, a marine enforcement officer with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Officials say the men conspired to catch commercial quantities of live fish and sell them to Asian restaurants, where live blackfish fetch a top price.

"This is probably the biggest as far as numbers and intent," Meyer said. "They know what they are doing is illegal, and they intentionally violated the regulations for profit."

This week's blackfish seizure comes less than a month after enforcement officers seized 100 live blackfish from anglers on the same party boat.

Coastal regulators are proposing a 63 percent cut in the allowable blackfish catch because they say populations of the slow-growing fish are too low and could eventually crash.

About 90 percent of the catch is by recreational anglers, but regulators say the small commercial catch is more than matched by an underground trade in live fish sold to high-end Asian restaurants. Connoisseurs of sushi and other delicacies can chose their blackfish from a tank and see it prepared in front of them.

About 12 anglers chartered the North Star for a private fishing trip on Tuesday, Meyer said. When they arrived back at the dock late that afternoon, enforcement officers watched as mates helped the anglers move their catch from aerated barrels into mesh bags that were then hung in the water from the sides of the dock.

The fish are hung in bags so that if an enforcement officer shows up, the anglers can say they don't know whose fish they are, Meyer said. Every five minutes, one of the crew would check the road for approaching enforcement officers, he said.

They never spotted the surveillance team, who watched as the fishermen put their empty barrels in trucks and retrieved their live fish from the dock.

When they moved in, the officers found five of the men had not exceeded the legal limit of 10 fish, but seven others had caught 752 pounds.

The officers seized 552 pounds of blackfish and charged the seven men with catching undersized fish and exceeding the limit. Undersized blackfish can fetch as much as $5 a pound on the black market, and Meyer said Tuesday's seizure included 58 undersized fish.

Four of the men also were charged with catching more than 100 pounds of blackfish without a commercial permit and intent to sell the fish during the closed commercial season, Meyer said.

Those four are Walter R. Czekaj Jr., 31, of Huntington, N.Y; Alan Dresner, 51, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Steven B. Groenewoud, 32, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; and Peter R. Lewis, 31, of Bronx, N.Y.

"This was a conspiracy," Meyer said. "They were planning this. They were looking out for us."

Meyer said none of the other fishermen claimed 211 pounds of fish left in bags tied to the dock, so summonses mailed Friday charge boat owner, Paul Barrus Jr. of Marmora, and boat captain, Chris Hyland, with that illegal catch.

"If the fish don't belong to any of the patrons on the boat, they belong to the boat," Meyer said. "The boat is providing a platform for doing it because they aren't actively stopping anyone from doing this stuff. They are even assisting."

Hyland and Barrus did not return a call to their dock Friday.

The charges against all nine men will be heard in Ocean City Municipal Court.

Meanwhile, the seizure of 100 blackfish Jan. 5 on the North Star led to guilty pleas last week from three of the five anglers cited. The men, two from New York and one from Pennsylvania, agreed to pay $680 in fines plus court costs for 34 illegal fish, Meyer said.

Charges against two Chinese nationals cited on that trip are pending.

end-
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"Crazy" Alberto
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Al,
One of my friends was on that trip. He had gotten invited by one of the individuals that setup the charter. They had told him that the day before(Monday)they had slaughtered the tog...pool fish was 16lbs and they had quite a few fish over 9lbs. He went down and got his limit of 10 up to 8lbs. He said as he was leaving that day, the other anglers were obviously setting up coolers and barrels to transport the tog alive in their trucks and the mates, if not helping, definetely knew what was going on. He did mention that they had kept alot of the fish from the day before alive at the dock as well so I don't know if that will come into play with the charges. He also mentioned that some of the anglers onboard were keeping EVERYTHING they caught and looked at him strange for throwing shorts back. Sickening scenario!!! Glad they got em!!!
What do you think they did with the confiscated fish especially if they were still alive? I think after two such large busts that captain should loose his license or something as harsh.
 

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Al:

Absolutely disgusting. These guys deserve the maximum punishment. Not only does this illegal activity destroy the numbers of such a wonderful fish, but it ruins it for guys like us who follow every rule, with pride.

Thanks for posting that article. More people need to be aware of the problems that surround the fishing world.

Soundfisher

P.S. The Chinese nationals should be sent back to their homelands.
 

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If anybody sees anything else of this nature, call 1-800-TIPS-DEC. Report these greedy individuals and hopefully they will pay a price for their greed. While George may say that the only thing that hurts the tautog fishery are the fish pots, this recreational poaching can't be helping.
 

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maby if they would shut down the illegal operation on the north star for good other boats and captains will think twice about allowing and taking part in poaching and using a recreational vessel as an illegal commercial fishing platform. a fine of a few thousand dollars seems to be a price of buisness that these people are willing to pay. it will not stop them !

I think suspending the vessels C.O.I. (cretificate of inspection) for a few months during the summer will be a great deterent for poaching


This message was edited by tuna bab on 2-4-02 @ 9:20 PM
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Gamakatsu Wrote:
A disgrace and a black eye to the real recreational community, particularly party boat anglers like myself. This is nothing more than an illegal commercial fishing operation disguised as a party boat.
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I agree Gamakatsu! This brings a whole new meaning to party boat fishing! Something needs to be done about it to prevent this from happening again!

Gottog wrote:
Al,
One of my friends was on that trip. ? He also mentioned that some of the anglers onboard were keeping EVERYTHING they caught and looked at him strange for throwing shorts back. Sickening scenario!!! Glad they got em!!! What do you think they did with the confiscated fish especially if they were still alive? I think after two such large busts that captain should loose his license or something as harsh.

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Gottog,
Your friend is a good man and he should be a witness to the hearing. As far as the fish are concerned? that?s a good question? I know those fish are ?evidence? but I don?t believe those fish will be kept alive.

Huskers23 wrote:
?Thanks for posting that article. More people need to be aware of the problems that surround the fishing world.
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Soundfisher,
I agree! More people need to be more aware of what is going on with our fishery! Fishing is supposed to be fun and it?s also a big business?. Unfortunately, like any other business? you will get those crooked ones that breaks the rules.

Quiknet wrote:
If anybody sees anything else of this nature, call 1-800-TIPS-DEC. Report these greedy individuals and hopefully they will pay a price for their greed. While George may say that the only thing that hurts the tautog fishery are the fish pots, this recreational poaching can't be helping.
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Quiknet,
Unfortunately we have a shortage of marine enforcement and they can not be every place at the same time. But I must agree with you? whenever you see disruptive act going on? It?s always good to keep a record of the time, take pictures and even taking their vehicles plate numbers. Never confront them?just forward that information to them and let them do their thing.

tuna bab wrote:
maybe if they would shut down the illegal operation on the north star for good other boats and captains will think twice about allowing and taking part in poaching and using a recreational vessel as an illegal commercial fishing platform. a fine of a few thousand dollars seems to be a price of buisness that these people are willing to pay. it will not stop them !
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tuna bab You are so right? The judge should make them as an example to deter others from doing it! A mere fine will only be a slap and they will carry on?

spacegh8st wrote:
Increase the fines and make stricter penalties so potential repeat offenders think twice. Plus the revenue could help put more DEC officials out there to protect and conserve.
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Space,
Absolutely! We should do something to increase DEC enforcement! This could be a perfect vehicle for that!
Let?s hope something good can come out of this terrible act!

"Crazy" Alberto
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Al
I am sorry to say I know one of those guys that was charged. I think they should get everything that's coming to them and I would feel even better if the DEC had the power to confiscate the boat. That would definitely put a stop to the poaching.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Parttimer wrote:
I am sorry to say I know one of those guys that was charged. I think they should get everything that's coming to them and I would feel even better if the DEC had the power to confiscate the boat. That would definitely put a stop to the poaching.
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Hello Parttimer,
Wow? Since you know one of the perpetrators, did you talk to him? I want to know how does he feel about it all? Also, will he do it again?

IBEW wrote:
Take the party boat and sink it!
Let it become an artificial reef at the owners
expense. Hope they all get whats coming to them.

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IBEW, Wow? That?s extreme? but I like that idea. :)

Striper77 wrote:
At $5 a pound market price and a $500 fine it is still profitable for them to continue !
Make the fines 10X the market value of the illegal fish, and confiscate the boat until it is paid.

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Stripper77,
I agree with you 100%? Unfortunately today?s fines is not a big deterrence to them! The fines need to be severe enough to make them stop and to deter others!!!

"Crazy" Alberto
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I feel that any Party/Charter boat Capts. & mates should have an obligation to enforce the limits of whatever speices they are targeting. It is in their best interest - long term.

If they don't enforce the limits, they should at least not encourage or get involve in these illegal activities. I know there are many honest Capts and fishermen out there.

I agree with IBEW. Yeah, we should sink the boat for the reef program. That should increase the stock for sure. Part of payback not forward.
The purposed one blackfish/day/man for this coming season is a result of this type of activities. I'm so disappointed.

The fines issued is a drop in the bucket compared to what they get for the fish. This could've been their 5th, 10th or 20th trip. Who knows....

Why should we all suffer from this. It is so unfair. Should we go as far as mandating LiveCam on all party boats or what. Just to keep them honest.

What do you think??

reelsa



This message was edited by reelsa on 2-11-02 @ 6:02 PM
 
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