Rhode Island DEM Sting Nets Block Island Poachers

Recently, DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office for Law Enforcement, U.S. Coast GuardConnecticut State Environmental Conservation Police, and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Police conducted Operation Level Playing Field. This action enforced fishing laws and regulations on the Southwest Ledge off the coast of Block Island, an area frequently exploited by charter boat captains, dive operations, and both commercial and recreational anglers targeting striped bass near the tri-state boundary within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).


The EEZ is a portion of federal waters reserved for conserving and managing fishery stocks. The objective of the operation was to change the culture of fishing for striped bass in this protected area. This entailed a prolonged high-visibility patrol presence in the region, as well as boarding vessels to check for compliance.
During the operation, 13 vessel captains were cited for both state and federal violations; possession of striped bass in the EEZ, failure to fin clip a striped bass 34” or larger, and impeding a fisheries boarding. A total of 80 hours of patrol time was conducted during this operation.

DEM appreciates our partners who made this operation a success in helping level the playing field for all anglers who abide by current striped bass regulations. Agencies will continue to patrol this area to deter and disrupt any illegal activity.

Adhering to the rules is not only good for the health of our fisheries; it’s the law. For sizes and possession limits, visit dem.ri.gov/marine.

16 on “Rhode Island DEM Sting Nets Block Island Poachers

  1. jerry kells

    I hope the DEM confiscated all of the gear and the boats of these Poachers, it is what they deserve.

  2. Alanso

    Same problem in Cape Cod Canal. I am not sure it is the current regulations leading to a depleted stock, but rather immoral people that can not follow the rules. The fines and punishment need to be increased along with more patrols.

    1. Vince

      Possess gear for fishing past the 3 mile mark? Or failing to clip the fin? Apparently you don’t pay attention to detail. This article did not cite anyone possessing more than they should.

      1. peter okeefe

        clear rational thought and very good questions

  3. David A. Collins

    There needs to be more than 80 hours of patrols in these waters. The recent citations are a good start, but the area really needs to be shut down by more patrols to protect these large breeding fish. Even with those Captains ( I use that word lightly) that were caught, there were literally thousands of others over the line this season, not just off Block, but off Montauk as well.

  4. Col. Mustard

    Give names of boats and captains would definitely be a help.

    1. Vince

      It’s easily for people to drift the 3 mile mark. From previous experience, a lot of boats from CT and Montauk are the culprits.

    1. Kcarman

      Hey Honey, Did you see the $ I left on the dresser for you? I had a hell of a good time. Thanks

  5. peter okeefe

    I cant think of a more tyrannical approach to men trying to feed there families. Anyone with half a brain knows fishing poles and individual sportsmen are NOT the problem its just an easy payday for govt. How can anyone demand access to your property without witnessing(probable cause) a crime? Guess the bill of rights our forefathers(and some older men) fought and bled for is out the window?

  6. Terry Tingle

    Good work boys!
    Deserve a feather in your cap for this raid!
    What men!

  7. Ron

    They were never thinking of adding more time to the commercial season actually they’re cutting it 17% next year commercial rod and reel‘s get 105,000 pounds of tagged and logged bass a year recreational are approaching 3,000,000 pounds get it right

  8. Bruce

    Peter, anyone with half a brain knows it is “their families” not “there families”. They had laws and regulation way back when our forefathers started this country too. If people don’t follow them there will be no fish left for future generations. The fact that you are saying law enforcement shouldn’t be able to search a boat for illegally taken fish is ridiculous. How do you suggest getting people to follow fishing regulations? Get a grip

  9. bill gombos

    I was out there during the 80 hours of patrols and when the coast guard showed up and was boarding you could see a ton of charters limp home to montouk. They boarded every boat but us. They need to board more often and expose the offending charters so it hits home. I have seen guys all the time at night who cut their lights when they pull them in over the rail at night. Its sad really when you can catch them inside the line and legally.

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