PRESTON, Md. (April 12, 2011) The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) have charged nine recreational anglers from Delaware and Texas for illegally fishing in a designated striped bass spawning area in the Choptank River. The charges come just days before the opening of trophy striped bass season on April 16.
The majority of Atlantic striped bass are born and return to spawn in very discreet areas throughout Maryland. For the health of the population, it is illegal to fish for striped bass in those areas during the annual spawn, said DNR Secretary John Griffin. Disregard for this fragile ecosystem and our State fish will not be tolerated.
The spawning reaches and areas of Chesapeake Bay are closed to the targeting and catching of striped bass during the spawning season, said DNR Fisheries Service Director Tom OConnell. Spawning imposes significant energy demands on large female striped bass, and the stress of catch-and-release while spawning or in spawning areas can cause behavioral changes, including fallback, a phenomenon in which upstream migrating striped bass begin downstream following release.
On April 9th, 2011, NRP Officers set up surveillance in the Choptank River near Ganeys Wharf in Caroline County after receiving tips of people fishing illegally. This area is designated as a striped bass spawning river and reach, and catching or attempting to catch striped bass is illegal. NRP officers caught and charged four anglers on April 9 and five more the next day.
Coastal Conservation Association Maryland believes that anglers both commercial and recreational bear the same burden of protecting Maryland's natural resources. The recreational anglers caught poaching on the Choptank must be held accountable for their illegal actions, said Tony Friedrick, Executive Director of CCA MD. CCA MD applauds the work of the Natural Resources Police and hopes this sends a clear message to all those who would consider breaking natural resources law.
Officers charged Terry Edward Andrus of Cypress, TX; Timothy Wayne Barnett, 31, of Bridgeville DE; Paul Edward Daisey, 30, of Millville, DE; William Darr Hall, 57, of Bridgetown, DE; Kevin Glen Reese, 46, of Katy, TX; Frederick Joseph Ruff, 49, of Milton, DE; Kathy Ewing Ruff, 49, of Milton, DE; Mark Bryan Stubbs of Katy, TX, and Chad Edward Tingle, 35, of Selbyville, DE.
All those arrested face catch/attempt to catch striped bass in a spawning area/river between March 1 and May 31 charges. The penalty includes a fine of up to $500 and $1,500 per fish for each individual and a possible license suspension for up to one year. A court date has been set for May 13, 2011 in Caroline County District Court. Charges, fines and court dates are the same for all subjects. An additional 7 warnings were also issued.
Earlier this year, NRP recovered 25 thousand pounds of illegally rockfish caught rockfish. DNR is offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
In the States ongoing efforts to protect the public trust, the 2011 General Assembly enacted several bills that would increase NRP authority and penalties for illegal fishing.
Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)