Two men face nearly a million dollars in fines after they were caught poaching hundreds of pounds of striped bass on the Patapsco River in Maryland. Terry Myrick and John Messenger were caught exceeding their daily catch limit, according to Maryland Natural Resources Police. The pair face fines in excess of $400,000 based on a maximum fine of $2,500 per fish, for exceeding their daily harvest by 532 pounds.
Striped bass poaching has been a recurring problem in Maryland. An eight-year sting investigation by federal and state agencies that ended in 2010 led to the conviction of 19 men for poaching and selling 1.6 million pounds of striped bass on the black market. The next year, state Natural Resources Police found more than 16 tons (32,000 pounds) of striped bass in illegal gillnets. State officials shut down the commercial striped bass season early to protect the species from overfishing. Maryland DNR has been recently criticized by recreational fishing groups for increasing the allowable catch of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay in 2014, despite troubling trends in the coastwide striper population.
“Two men charged with over harvesting rockfish from Patapsco River” – Baltimore Sun, 1/8/2014
“Anglers object to increasing rockfish catch” – Baltimore Sun, 12/10/2013
*An earlier version of this post quoted a CBS Baltimore article that stated 13 million pounds of striped bass were found in illegal gillnets by Maryland DNR in 2011. The number has been corrected to 16 tons (32,000 pounds).