Delaware Fishery Councils Advocating For Higher Poaching Fines

Last weeks meeting of the Advisory Council on Tidal Finfisheries was informative as always. These folks advise DNREC on tidal finfish issues, that would be only saltwater and brackish water fish. They are the council that debates and votes how we should change creel limits to comply with ASMFC, MAFMA etc. Just like they did with striped bass last month. There are two other councils that deal with fishery issues; The Advisory Council on Shell Fisheries and The Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish. Anyone can attend these meetings and even suggest or ask for the councils to consider issues they would like to see fixed.

Recently all three councils started working together on our poaching issues. They formed a subcommittee and are addressing some of our issues by proposing changes to the fines system. By creating a tiered system to increase the effectiveness of these fines and charges.
The poaching laws don’t need to be changed as far as creels and sizes, but how people are charged for breaking them and the fines. The cost of doing business for poaching is an issue in Delaware. Fines are low, and all of the charges don’t stick.

The main reason charges don’t stick is due to the fact DNREC officers have to write a ticket per violation. For example, if you are ten crabs over the daily creel, or undersized, you will receive ten different tickets, one for each violation. This is not only time consuming for the officers, but also the courts tend to just pull one fine or ticket, charge the offender, and throw out the rest. For some recreational and commercial anglers it becomes the cost of doing business, they know they will only be charged for one of the ten to hundreds of violations. It is equivalent to a slap on the wrist.

poaching clams, delaware, creel limits,  Advisory Council on Shell Fisheries, Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish,  Advisory Council on Tidal Finfisheries
Proposed poaching for clams in Delaware as an example by the subcommittees

By changing to a tiered system, DNREC officers would be able to write a single ticket for multiple or tiered violations. The committee started with clams for the ease of numbers to give an example. This way one ticket is written for exceeding the limits and the fines increase as well as the violation class, as the violation increases.
Essentially, ten tickets would become one ticket and could not be tossed out of court. Violations would be tiered in classes A to D, and this would be for recreational as well as commercial anglers. The fines for clams as an example could be such …
1 to 6 clams … $50
7 to 15 clams … $100
16 to 35 clams … $250
Over 36 Clams $1,000

This new system of fines would have to go to legislation to be changed but I think the councils have a great handle on how this should be done. Delaware needs better fines and real charges to stop people form poaching our fishery. Eventually it is possible that once someone hits a certain number of violations, their commercial or recreational license could be pulled for life. The possibilities for all of this are there and these councils are working together to make this happen.

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These councils are made up of people who know the Delaware fishery. Most of them are fishermen, recreational and commercial. They work well on our fishery issues.
A subcommittee of these councils should also be formed too work on other things for the fishery, like how our recreational fishing license money is spent. Just based on the descriptions of the councils alone you can see they are the best equipped for the job. Add to that the newly formed Delaware Sportsmen’s Caucus it would be a win for the recreational angler to have equal representation throughout the state of Delaware.
Some of you up north know this but many do not … we are about to lose a lot of land based fishing areas due to issues. It is easier to just shut these areas down, instead of regulating them better. We need too fix that pronto, these are the people that can make that happen. All it takes is money which we happen to have available.
For example … Instead of taking down the piers along the C&D canal these could be fixed and maintained. That requires a deal with the Army Corp of Engineers, but I am sure it is possible. Delaware is already paying to pump the sand at the inlet the ACOE is responsible for due to money issues.
Just some food for thought to help our recreational land based anglers and create a better and more accessible fishery for everyone. Now if everyone would start going to these meetings, we cold really get some things changed.

Delaware Advisory Council On Tidal Finfisheries
Delaware Advisory Council On Tidal Finfisheries Left to right … Recreational James G. Little Marvin M. Kahl, Jr. Bernard L. Pankowski Dr. Dewayne Fox, Chair Commercial P. Wes Townsend Joseph A. Smith Brian Hoffecker

Advisory Council on Tidal Finfisheries …

The Advisory Council on Tidal Finfisheries was created in 1984 to advise the Division of Fish & Wildlife and represent both the commercial and recreational interests in the state’s regulation of finfish.
The Council is established in state law at 7 Del. Code § 904 and is comprised of seven members, with each member serving a term of three years. The Council members are appointed by the Governor.
The Council represents a variety of finfishing interests, including the bait and tackle industry, those fishing from shore, and those fishing from private vessels, chartered boats, or head boats. There are members who represent commercial fishing interests, such as seafood wholesalers, those fishing with fixed fishing equipment, and those fishing with drifting or hauling fishing equipment.
The Tidal Finfish Advisory Council meets at least once per quarter, usually on the third Wednesday of the meeting month. Meetings and agendas are posted on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar. Meeting minutes are posted on the Public Meeting Calendar once approved at a later Council meeting.

The Advisory Council on Shell Fisheries ...

The Advisory Council on Shell Fisheries was created in 1953 and serves in an advisory capacity to the Director of Fish & Wildlife. It considers matters relating to the control and direction of the shellfish industry and the protection, conservation and propagation of shellfish of this State, and such matters as may be referred to it by the Governor, Secretary of the Department or the Director of Fish & Wildlife.
The Council is established in state law at 29 Del. Code § 8007 and is comprised of seven members, with each member serving a term of three years. The Council members are appointed by the Governor.
The Council includes one commercial lobster or conch fisherman, one commercial crabber, one commercial oysterman, one commercial clammer, one person knowledgeable in marine fisheries, one person representing recreational shell fishing, and a Chairperson who serves at the pleasure of the Governor.
Council meetings and agendas are posted on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar. Meeting minutes are posted on the Public Meeting Calendar once approved at a later Council meeting.

The Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish

The Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish was created in 1953 as the Council on Game and Fish. It serves in an advisory capacity to the Director of the Division of Fish & Wildlife.
The Council is established in state law at 29 Del. Code § 8006. It is comprised of nine members appointed by the Governor, with each member serving a term of three years.
The Council considers matters relating to the protection, conservation and propagation of all forms of fish and protected wildlife of Delaware and such matters as may be referred to it by the Governor, the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control or the Director of DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife.
The Council generally meets once each month. Meetings and agendas are posted on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar. Meeting minutes are posted on the Public Meeting Calendar once approved at a later Council meeting.

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