State regulators detail fishing violations in quarterly report
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Illegal catches of sea bass, striped bass and flounder highlight the quarterly report of illegal fishing activity from the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Marine Conservation Officer Joseph Meyer gave the quarterly report at a meeting Thursday of the N.J. Marine Fisheries Council.
All six anglers aboard the party boat Miss Atlantic City
received summons in a case handled in November. The boat had been on a sea bass trip.
"They had 285 fish, 135 over the bag limit," Meyer said.
The bag limit for sea bass is 25 fish per angler per day. The minimum fish size for sea bass is 12 inches, and Meyer said 137 of the fish were under the size limit. Each violation could bring a fine of $30 when the case goes to Atlantic City Municipal Court.
The Miss Atlantic City was also at the center of a fish bust in May. The Miss Atlantic City and the Captain Collet, both owned by Edward Collet, were boarded and citiations issued to 28 anglers. Marine agents seized 400 illegal sea bass and tautog and donated the fish to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.
Meyer also told the council about a December bust against the Brielle, Monmouth County, party boat Barb Gail IV
, which was illegally catching and selling striped bass to a Middlesex County diner. Striped bass is considered a gamefish in New Jersey and cannot be sold. Only the farm-raised hybrid striped bass can be sold at restaurants.
Meyer said citations were issued for 93 striped bass fillets sold to the Seaville Diner
. Charges were also filed against the diner for 110 frozen striped bass fillets found in the freezer. Charges were also filed for landing 45 bass in excess of the daily bag limit of two fish and for having fish under the 28-inch minimum size limit.
Fines vary for selling striped bass from $100 to $3000 per fish. Some fish fines may soon increase. There is a proposal to increase the fine for illegal catches of tautog and black drum from $30 to $100.
The third case involves boat fishing for scallops out of Cape May, the Pearl W. O' Neal
. Meyer said the boat had a legal harvest of scallops, but marine conservation officers found 128 illegal summer flounder fillets hidden on the boat.
"They were charged with possession of summer flounder during a closed season," Meyer said.
Charges were also filed for having flounder parts. Only the whole fish is allowed.
Council member Ed Goldman asked about the conviction rate. These cases have not gone to court yet, but Meyer said the state's conviction rate is 99 percent. Most plead guilty and pay the fine, he noted.
"How did the restaurant put striped bass on the menu?" asked council member Erling Berg.
"It happens all the time," Meyer said. "They put it down as hybrid striped bass."
The council governs fishing off the New Jersey coast, and those fishery-management plans are based on compliance by fishermen.