BLOODY POINT, Md.- Maryland Natural Resources Police late last week pulled a deteriorated half-mile-wide gill net from the Chesapeake Bay off of Bloody Point in Kent Island.
Blue crabs, horseshoe crabs and other fish were tangled in the net and all dead. Now NRP officials are trying to determine if this net was legal or illegal.
"This particular net we recovered it's hard to tell if it was an anchored gill net or just a regular gill net that got away from commercial watermen," said NRP Lt. Art Windemuth.
The net was found by a member of the Coastal Conservation Association a few miles from the coast. Tony Friedrick, who is the group's executive director, said there is a huge difference between what is legal and what is not.
"Legal nets are gill nets that drift and that have to be actively tended by the owner of the net," he said. "Illegal gill nets have extra weight added to them they can be left. They are a lot more lethal."
They are lethal not only for the creatures in the bay, but for the environment as a whole.
"Nobody wants to see these in the bay, nobody," said Friedrich. "They continue catching, they become a navigational hazard. We want people to be able to enjoy the bay and stories like this show there is an element out there that takes advantage of the rules, breaks the rules and doesn't need to be on the bay anymore."
It is Windemuth's job to make sure the rules are followed. He said that last year strides have been made to keep poachers from catching fish illegally.
"The closure of the season back in 2011, the enhanced penalties that the General Assembly imposed on violators, have all had a tremendous effect on the activity of these poachers," Windemuth said.
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