Massachusetts Raises the Stakes for Poachers

Poachers Face Suspension of Recreational Fishing Permits

Last year, there was an unprecedented mid-summer striped bass blitz along the Cape Cod Canal. This produced incredible catches, as well as infamous levels of poaching. Many publicized violations became high profile on social media and the talk of the waterfront.

For the past several years, the abundance of black sea bass along the state’s south coast coupled with a conservative bag limit has tempted anglers to ignore the rules, and there have been numerous cases of black sea bass bag limit and size limit violations.

Meanwhile, most commercial and recreational fishermen are frustrated with the negative impacts poaching continues to have on stock health and future fishing quotas and limits. Conservation-minded fishermen have been demanding stronger measures for violations.

In response, Massachusetts DMF and the MEP are seeking several remedial measures, including an increase in permit sanctions such as suspensions, revocations and non-renewals.

“State, federal and municipal agencies that are authorized by legislature to issue permits are also authorized to revoke such permitting in instances where the use of the permit is being abused,” said DMF Deputy Director Dan McKiernan. “DMF has historically utilized this process to suspend, revoke and not renew commercial fishing permits. What is new is the number of adjudicatory proceedings that DMF is conducting and first-ever sanctions on recreational fishing permits.”

Whereas prior years included only a handful of hearings annually to address commercial fishery violations, this past year DMF has conducted 15 adjudicatory proceedings for recreational and commercial fishing permits for violations of fishery regulations.

“DMF is, essentially, taking back the permits that it has issued to individuals who use them to poach,” said McKiernan. “We expect these sanctions will serve as deterrents to poaching but may only be the first of many steps necessary to improve the conservation ethic among Massachusetts fishermen.”


See How Poachers are Punished

DMF maintains a website for its Administrative Law Section that serves as a repository of final decisions, dating back to 2010. The site also provides the public with more information regarding the Administrative Law Section’s work and how adjudicatory hearings are conducted.

19 on “Massachusetts Raises the Stakes for Poachers

  1. Mr Zog

    This is good and may discourage some miscreants but it seems lenient to me.

  2. John

    I applaud the epo and the service they do.its great to see poachers being caught and served.Keep up the good fight!

  3. John Del Prete

    Hopefully you’ll consider confiscation of gear and boats too

  4. Scott D

    The state needs to put more EPO’S on the road to make any sort of different. I fish a minimum of 3 days a week (salt/fresh)and I’m 34 years old. I can count on one hand how many times I have had my license checked. 4 times fishing and 0 times hunting. You cant catch the poachers, if there is nobody to catch them!

    1. Bill

      I’ve had my saltwater fishing license checked 4 or 5 times, freshwater license and hunting licenses checked never. I only had a spot-check measurement of one fish in my bucket one time and the EPO made me take it out and measure it.

  5. matt fair

    what joke, take the license and there gear. Hell if they have a bike take that to.

  6. Spike

    I was there last weekend and saw people come out of the woods and grab fish from thier relative and bringing the fish out to their car right at the bend in the canal they must have taken 5 or 6 fish and they did that each of the day from thursday to sunday

  7. Dean Clark

    If the DMF is serious about better managing our striped bass fishery they will: lobby the legislature for an increase in their enforcement budget for more EPOs; demand tagging at point of capture not at time of sale for commercial permit holders; require use of in-line circle hooks when fishing with bait (exception for trolling with tube and worm); outlaw use of gaffs on stripers; confiscate all fishing equipment used in the act of poaching; revoke all fishing permits (commercial and recreational) if convicted of poaching. As long as poaching is profitable and safe it will continue relatively unabated. This isn’t rocket science. So far we have only gotten lip service and excuses from the DMF on the poaching issue. If they are serious then they can get this done and protect what is our number one most valuable marine fishery. It is time for action not meaningless words and a handful of slap-on-the-wrist convictions.

  8. Mike Spinney

    Glad to see the DMF say what we’ve been saying for years: the current rules encourage poaching. They can do more to stop it. Some measures that would make a difference:

    + Increase penalties for lawbreakers (stiff fines, gear seizure including boat impoundment).
    + Require tagging at point of capture instead of time of sale.
    + Increase the cost of permits to flush out the part-timers.
    + Set minimum qualifying catch thresholds to flush out part-timers.

  9. Roman Dudus

    It’s nice to see we can look at the final punishment. I agree with the other comments, take gear, boats, vehicles and keep them away from the fish. I don’t agree with only three years, permanent is better in both recreational and commercial. Let them find another sport to ruin! How many of these people are repeat offenders?

  10. Onthefly

    Not endorsing poaching but, I’ll bet that more stripers are killed from poor handling by fisherman than the one’s who are taking over the legal limit.

    Take the funds from the penalties and invest them into education young fisherman on proper handling and the value of catch and release.

  11. Dana

    I do not think just license suspensions and non renewal is going to be a strong enough deterrent. These people don’t care about the rules, doing the right thing, or sustaining our fish populations, they are greedy.
    Is there a way to include instruction on how to correctly catch and release a Striped Bass so that it stays alive as part of the Salt Water licence process. I have seen more dead shorts floating on the top all over the bay than ever before. Our family watched an older man gaff a striper about 23 inches long in order to get it on his boat and throw it back. He took off when he realized that we were watching him.Others pull them in up on the rocks of the canal and toss them from 10 feet up the bank and ignore that it is floating rather than swimming.

  12. Steve K

    The repercussions need to be harsh. Post their picture as well as a photo of their boat so those of us who respect the laws can keep an eye on them.

  13. John G

    People who are fishing without licenses should be heavily fined.

    The process of buying a fishing license should teach people enough so they know how to fish without hurting the fishery.

    The penalties for repeat offenders should be enough so that repeated offenses doesn’t happen.

  14. Chris

    Just make it like the steelhead fishery in upstate NY. Undercover wardens busting every snagger! I love it!
    Every poacher should never fish again, and the gear donated to a charity so they can eat.

  15. Edzo

    What happens when they get pinched, after loosing their licenses for 3 years.
    Betcha Mr Rodriguez and Sampaio were fishing the ditch this weekend.
    Hyannis’ finest.
    Loozahs !!!!

  16. Tim Lee

    Fine for the fish and storage charge for the gears confiscated.

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