Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: May 29-June 4
Reminder for the week: Commercial horseshoe crab harvest occurring now
DOVER (June 9, 2017) – To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between May 29-June 4 made 3,064 contacts with anglers, boaters and the general public, including 225 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks, issuing 37 citations. Officers responded to 53 complaints regarding possible violations of laws and regulations or requests to assist the public. An increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence continued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area and Michael N. Castle Trail.
Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police in the Community
- On May 31, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers displayed the Operation Game Theft trailer and presented information on Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police careers, boating safety and Fish & Wildlife laws during a safety day event at the Mispillion Elementary School near Milford.
- On June 3, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers hosted the 31st annual Youth Fishing Tournament, where over 150 children and their families enjoyed a great day of fishing at three tournament locations throughout the state. The tournament introduces its participants to the sport of fishing and teaches conservation through the practice of “Catch & Release.”
Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Actions
Incidents of note:
- On May 29, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers cited Karlee S. Blank, 26, of Washington, D.C., with operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol (OUI) following a vessel safety boarding in the Indian River Inlet. Blank was released with an order to appear in Sussex County Justice of the Peace Court 14, at a later date.
- On May 29, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers arrested Sarah Bobman, 24, of Chadds Ford, Pa., for offensive touching following an investigation into a domestic assault that occurred on a vessel in the Indian River Inlet. Bobman was released with an order to appear in Sussex County Court of Common Pleas at a later date.
- On May 31, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers cited Jeffrey Stewart, 46, of Lewes, for a commercial fisheries violation of possession of undersized knobbed conch. Stewart was released with an order to appear in Kent County Justice of the Peace Court 7 at a later date.
Citations issued by category, with the number of charges in parentheses, included:
Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Unlicensed fishing (6), possession of undersized white perch (4), fishing in a closed area of a state wildlife area (1)*, and improperly marked recreational crab pot (1).
Commercial: Possession of undersized knobbed conch (4).
Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol (OUI) (1), operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (5), no life jacket on a child age 12 or younger as required by law (1), no boating safety certificate (1), unregistered vessel (1), allow use of a non-compliant vessel (1), and equipment violation – no fire extinguisher (1).
Public Safety: Shellfish in closed polluted area- recreational clamming (1), possession of drug paraphernalia (1), offensive touching (1), and speeding (1).
Other: Trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (3), littering/dumping on a state wildlife area (1), and operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area (2)*.
*Includes citation(s) issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish, wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at http://de.gov/ogt.
Are you AWARE?
Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police remind visitors to central Bayshore beaches that they may see horseshoe crabs being legally harvested by commercial watermen now through the end of July. Delaware’s hand harvest of horseshoe crabs is permitted annually on weekdays from June 8 through July 31, or until Delaware’s annual quota is reached.
To harvest horseshoe crabs in Delaware, licensed commercial watermen must obtain a permit from the Division of Fish & Wildlife. Delaware adheres to the annual harvest limit set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), under the Commission’s Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Horseshoe Crabs. Harvest of male crabs is permitted only from the public beach at Port Mahon east of Dover and from private beaches with permission of the property owner; no harvest of female crabs is permitted at any time.
Delaware fisheries regulations require commercial watermen to report their horseshoe crab harvest within 24 hours; failure to do so results in a fine and possible suspension of their harvest permit until the report is submitted. The Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Fisheries Section monitors horseshoe crab harvest numbers until ASMFC’s annual quota is reached – this year, 162,136 male crabs – at which time the season closes. If the quota is not reached by July 31, a limited number of dredging permits for taking horseshoe crabs may be issued to commercial watermen.
Horseshoe crabs are harvested in Delaware for use as bait in the whelk (conch) and American eel commercial fisheries. Their copper-based blood also plays a key role in pharmaceutical testing. Through quotas, seasonal/area closures, widespread use of alternative baits and bait-saving devices and other conservation measures, bait landings in Delaware have been reduced.
Horseshoe crabs are vital to the ecology of the Delaware Bay, with visiting migratory shorebirds relying on horseshoe crab eggs to fuel their long distance migrations. The horseshoe crab harvest season opens after the shorebirds’ departure for their Arctic breeding grounds.