Offshore Patrol Reveals Fishing Violations

Several fishermen cited

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    CONTACT:
February 15, 2008                                                                                  Major J.T. Jenkins, 251-861-2882
 

Alabama Marine Resources Division officers confiscated 110 red snapper fillets and four red drum recently during a patrol made possible by a joint enforcement agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Marine Resources Conservation Enforcement Officer Bo Willis and Lt. Scott Bannon boarded the Slick As Glass about 25 nautical miles south of Petit Bois Island off the Mississippi Coast and found four red drum that had been gutted and a mesh bag containing the fillets of 55 red snapper.

It is illegal to harvest or possess red drum in federal waters. The recreational season for red snapper is currently closed. The boat did not have a federal reef fish permit.

Capt. Marcus Murphy III of Pascagoula, Miss., and two crew members were advised the case would be turned over to federal authorities, and the red drum and red snapper fillets were confiscated.

“This case and several others are the direct result of the joint enforcement agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service,” said Vernon Minton, Director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division. “This agreement pays to allow officers to work overtime, both offshore and nearshore, to enforce regulations, as well as purchase equipment necessary for these patrols. It has also increased our presence in state waters.”

Major John T. Jenkins, Chief of Enforcement with Marine Resources, said the division received $750,000 last year from the joint agreement and were able to purchase 8-meter and 10-meter offshore boats.

“It also provided us with an additional 3,800 patrol hours – offshore, nearshore and dockside patrols,” Jenkins said. “This case was one of the offshore patrols we are conducting under the agreement.

During the patrol, Officer Willis and Lt. Bannon checked 10 boats (a total of 34 people) that day.

On the way out, they cited three people for not having a saltwater fishing license and one for improperly marked recreational crab trap.

“The point I’m trying to get across is the federal money gives us more patrol time, whether it’s crabbing, saltwater fishing or gill net fishing.”

According to the report filed by the officers, Bannon boarded the boat and asked what the fishermen were catching. When the fishermen responded they were catching redfish, Bannon advised it is illegal to harvest or possess redfish in federal waters. Bannon then checked the three ice chests on board and discovered four gutted redfish and a mesh bag containing 110 red snapper fillets with the skins attached. The defendants agreed the fish were indeed red snapper.

“This was a pretty egregious violation,” Jenkins said. “We forwarded the case packet to Special Agent Greg Houghaboom with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Niceville, Fla. He will review the case packet and forward it to Federal Prosecutor Karen Raine.

“In any enforcement situation, usually 10 percent of the people are responsible for 90 percent of the violations. This shows that we are able to apprehend these violators because of the equipment provided and extra hours to be on the water. This helps NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and it improves assets and man-hours for state enforcement, too.”

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

 

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