CONTACT:
Lt. John Wimsatt: (603) 271-3361 or (603) 868-1095
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
December 15, 2006

Marine Fisheries Law Enforcement Activity Increased in 2006

DURHAM, N.H. -- In an effort to address significant pressure on New Hampshire's marine fisheries resources, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers (COs) stepped up enforcement of state and federal fisheries regulations in New Hampshire's coastal district this year. The combination of popular recreational angling, along with a competitive commercial marine fisheries industry, kept Fish and Game officers busy patrolling New Hampshire's 18 miles of coastline and related tidal waters, including the Great Bay Estuary. Officers assigned to the coastal district were assisted in this duty by visiting Conservation Officers drawn from other parts of the state.

The enhanced enforcement efforts targeted three primary fisheries -- striped bass, American lobster and groundfish (cod, haddock, etc.). During the spring and summer of 2006, the initiative resulted in Fish and Game officers issuing 67 summonses and warnings for striped bass violations and seizing over 75 illegal fish. In addition, COs apprehended numerous fishermen for illegal lobster possession and issued 76 summonses and warnings. They issued 9 summonses and warnings for groundfish and other miscellaneous violations. Officers issued 15 summonses and warnings for littering and made 7 arrests for drug possession. In addition, officers made several referrals to National Marine Fisheries Special Agents for violations of federal fisheries regulations.

According to Lt. John Wimsatt, who supervises N.H. Fish and Game Law Enforcement in the seacoast district, a combination of factors contributed to the success of these initiatives. "The expertise of our local Fish and Game officers, and support from enthusiastic visiting COs, gave us the necessary manpower to cover the day and nighttime details," Wimsatt said. "Plus, federal support for the effort made it possible."

Two federal programs provided crucial funding in support of New Hampshire's coastal fisheries enforcement efforts - funds from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and through the Joint Enforcement Agreement, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office for Law Enforcement.

"We've also had excellent support from the seacoast community," Wimsatt said, adding that his staff received many calls from the public to report illegal striped bass and lobster fishing activity. These calls, and reports to the 24-hour Operation Game Thief tip line (1-800-344-4262), resulted in Fish and Game officers' apprehension of several violators.

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

For more information on New Hampshire's marine fisheries regulations, click here and on the publication cover at the right for "Saltwater Fishing Digest," or pick up a copy at Fish and Game's regional office in Durham, Fish and Game headquarters in Concord or from sport shops in the seacoast region.

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