CONTACT:
Lt. John Wimsatt, (603) 271-3361, 868-1095
Jane Vachon, (603) 271-3211
July 28, 2006

Conservation Officers Catch Striped Bass Poachers

NEWS MEDIA:
Click on a thumbnail below to download a print-quality image (large files). Credit NH Fish and Game.
Tagged evidence.
Illegal striper take.

Top: Tagged evidence used for court prosecutions of illegal striped bass and lobster take.

Below: Contraband catch: Illegal striped bass confiscated by Conservation Officers.

Durham, N.H. -- During the summer months, thousands of saltwater anglers head for New Hampshire's seacoast in search of prized striped bass that migrate through the state's coastal and estuarine waters. Peak fishing generally occurs from June through September. To conserve and manage the striper population, regulations allow for an angler to keep two fish per day, but the fish must be a minimum length of 28 inches, and only one fish may exceed 40 inches.

In recent weeks, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers have stepped up efforts to catch poachers who exceed the daily bag limits and keep sub-legal stripers known as "schoolies." Several Conservation Officers from across the state have traveled to the seacoast region to help with this initiative.

Over the last two months, officers have apprehended more than 20 poachers for striped bass violations and seized more than 50 illegal fish. In addition, they have caught several fishermen for illegal lobster possession, littering and drug possession. Lt. John Wimsatt, who supervises the seacoast district law enforcement for Fish and Game, says a combination of factors have contributed to the success of these law enforcement efforts.

Local and visiting Conservation Officers working the coast to conduct state and federal fisheries enforcement are funded in part by federal monies provided through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and by Joint Enforcement Agreement funding provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office for Law Enforcement. "Without this important funding, we would not be able to provide the additional patrols," Wimsatt said.

Wimsatt also credits excellent support from the seacoast community. "Our staff has received numerous calls from the public reporting illegal striped bass and lobster fishing activity. These calls to the Operation Game Thief tip line have resulted in apprehension of several violators, helping to protect our valuable marine resources," Wimsatt said.

Wimsatt stressed that the vast majority of fishermen voluntarily comply with the rules and support the efforts of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

For more information about the striped bass fishery or to view the 2006 N.H. Saltwater Fishing Digest, click here and on the publication cover. You can pick up a copy of the regulations book at Fish and Game's regional office in Durham (call 603-868-1095) or at sport shops in the seacoast region.

To report poachers, please call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-344-4262. You may remain anonymous. The tip line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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