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|More Illegal Nets, Hundred of Dead Striped Bass Found|
|Thursday, 05 May 2011 08:16|
Yet another illegal gill net was discovered in the Chesapeake Bay yesterday, and the one found last weekend was retrieved with hundreds of dead and rotting striped bass in it. Sorry to keep harping on a subject that’s more regional in nature than national, I know a lot of folks who see this aren’t from the Chesapeake area, and the topic may be off-target for them. But this continuing problem is so egregious, so horrible, that we need to keep it in the bull’s-eye.
Striped bass were, just a few short decades ago, rare in the bay – where at least half of the entire Atlantic population of the species breeds. They were in danger of being wiped out. Yet with stringent enforcement of a complete moratorium on their harvest, we were able to bring them back in good numbers. Now, with their population once again on the decline, we have these illegal gill nets taking thousands of pounds of fish that aren’t accounted for in judging harvest limits, and even worse yet, are indiscriminately killing huge numbers of fish that are left to rot.
The net discovered last weekend, coming on the heels of three found this winter with over 10,000 pounds of illegal fish in them, was pulled yesterday. In it, hundreds of long-dead stripers averaging 15 pounds each, totalling about 7,000 pounds, as well as a sturgeon – which is on the endangered list – were found. Even worse yet, there are reports they’ve found a second net, about 1.5 miles farther south.
Obviously, this problem is completely out of hand. It reminds us of the Great Lakes yellow perch fishery, where illegal commercial harvest got so out of hand that the entire fishery had to be shut down. It’s time to start asking the same question in the Chesapeake: with so much illegal fishing going on and so many striped bass being stolen from the public, is it time to eliminate the commercial netting fishery here, altogether?