Lack of Enforcement and Poaching

Is there poaching going on out there? Yes! This especially holds true for the recreational anglers because they are not required to report their catches as a commercial fisherman would when he takes his fish to market. Is their a black market for fish? Yes! Many local restaurants will buy fish from people who don’t have a commercial fishing license, this was hugely prevalent back in the days when we had lots of cobia which helped to deplete that fishery and it still goes on today. The problem with poaching is that it is so hard for the wildlife officers to catch a poacher unless they get the guys red handed with illegal fish in hand and a lot of these guys have secret compartments on their boats or make multiple runs in a single day and once those fish leave the boat it is nearly impossible track when or where they were caught. Moreover, these poor wildlife officers are stretched so thin. Between policing hunters, boaters and fisherman they only have time to check a small fraction of the boats out fishing. In the past 5 years I can count on one hand how many times I have been checked by a local wildlife officer and I do understand that they know that I am a charter boat captain who is on the up and up but this goes for everyone out here. Nobody gets checked and everybody knows it so we are basically left to follow the rules on the honor system…with at least 90% of all fisherman being greedy you know that a lot of illegal fish are making their way to some good old boys freezer. Stay tuned for next month as we will be concluding this series and discussing a few things that we can do to move forward.