DNR Will Allow Two More Days of Rockfish Season

By Kerry Davis
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS -- Rockfish season will re-open for two days this month beginning on Friday, said Sgt. Art Windemuth, a spokesman for the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

The re-opening of rockfish season means that watermen will have only two days to try to make up for profits lost since the Department of Natural Resources closed the season at the beginning of the month due to poaching.

"When you're not making any money, any little bit helps," said Gibby Dean, president of the Chesapeake Bay Commercial Fishermen's Association.

Fisheries agencies closed rockfish season at the beginning of the month after Natural Resources Police found about 10 tons of poached rockfish, or striped bass, in the Chesapeake Bay. Police have since found almost three more tons of poached fish.

The illegally caught fish were found in anchored gill nets. Anchoring gill nets to the bottom of the Bay with weights has been illegal since 1985. Gill nets normally drift vertically in the water and are visible from above.

About 200,000 pounds of Maryland's rockfish quota remains for the month and is usually held in reserve, which is what watermen had been waiting for.

After the season is open on Friday and Monday, it will close until December. Rockfish season is open on alternating days in December, January and February.