If you follow along with the New York DEC’s Environmental Police Highlights, you might notice some frequent headlines in the city, Nassau and Suffolk counties. Those headlines started to appear during the end of March and are showing up just as frequently in the last newsletter I received in my emails.
Some of the headlines that made an appearance in my last emails from the DEC are “Haulin’ Bass,” “Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind for K9 Cramer,” “Striped Bass Violations,” and “Spring Striped Bass Detail Nets Poachers.” Maybe you questioned the first two but the two latter headlines I listed literally spell out the problem here—the illegal taking of striped bass.
Some of these past incidents have been covered in The Fisherman Magazine’s news brief section before. More recently, a significant one took place earlier in the year in Raritan Bay which New Jersey & Delaware Bay Managing Editor Jim Hutchinson Jr. addressed.
These events happen year after year in similar locations too. I was also informed that these are repeat offenders and after the cheaper gear is confiscated, new rods and reels are bought on the cheap just for it to happen again. A black market does exist for the sale of striped bass and it’s alive and well right now. The evidence of that is the frequency of these poaching events popping up repeatedly. I’ve even seen these fish attempted to be sold on Facebook marketplace—DEC gets these individuals rather quickly. But what about those that are missed? Think about that for a minute. While our officers in green are doing all they can to stop these illegal activities, how many of these go under the radar? I’m sure more than both you and I suspect. This unknown number isn’t taken into consideration when assessing striped bass harvesting either and to the defense of those doing the research, they can’t take it into effect because we actually have no idea how many striped bass are taken or sold illegally that officers don’t catch.
It’s been my goal to shed some light on this topic. I try to share these incidents as much as possible because it’s a real growing problem and all anglers who respect the fishery should be aware of it. We’ve heard the stories and maybe some of us have seen this taking place too. Now, I’m not asking you to become a striped bass poaching vigilante but if you do observe illegal fishing practices or fish enough where you might stumble across something like this taking place, have an ECO or bay constable’s number in your contacts so that you can alert them if you see something suspicious. These officers are usually pretty responsive and want to get these law-breakers as much as you do.
If you see something you can call the dispatch center at (844) 332-3267 or visit www.dec.ny.gov/about/28461.html where you can find your local region 1 and 2 officers with their information publically listed.