Three men face multiple charges after police say they grossly violated rockfish catch limits while fishing without licenses in Baltimore.
Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) say on June 14, an officer was on patrol just before midnight when he stopped to refuel at the Marine Max fuel pier, near the Clinton Street industrial piers in Southeast Baltimore.
NRP says the officer noticed three men fishing from the fuel pier and carrying bucket filled with a large number of fish. Officers conducted a conservation stop and found a total of 57 striped bass inside two bucket and a cooler.
Rene Lopez, 46, Luis Lemus-Velasquez, 27, both from Halethorpe and Erlyn Ordonez Nunez, 30, of Baltimore, were charged with fishing without a Chesapeake Bay and coastal fishing license, exceeding the daily limit, and keeping undersized striped bass.
Officer seized the 57 fish and returned them to the water. Because it was late at night, NRP spokesperson Lauren Moses tells Bay Bulletin the poached fish couldn’t be taken to a food bank, as is sometimes done in these cases. “We weren’t going to allow the poachers to keep the fish and if the fish were left out, wildlife would have fed on them.”
The three men charged could face a $2,000 fine if found guilty.
During the summer rockfish season in Maryland, the catch limit is one fish per person per day with a minimum size of 19 inches. Striped bass have been under strict conservation measures coastwide after mid-Atlantic fisheries managers found mortality was too high and rockfish were being overfished.
-Meg Walburn Viviano