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Thread: Pair arrested on charges of overfishing

  1. #1

    Pair arrested on charges of overfishing

    New Haven Register

    State conservation officers netted their biggest fish bust of the year when they arrested two local men for allegedly taking too many striped bass and bluefish from the state?s waters, some of which were too small.

    T.J. Carlson, 29, of North Haven and Chad Benoit, 34, of New Haven were booked on numerous charges relating to marine fisheries laws, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday.

    Carlson on Friday said he made a stupid mistake.

    "There?s no mistaking I was totally in the wrong with it. I?m not happy with myself over it," said Carlson, a part-time charter boat captain who went fishing Thursday night with Benoit, a friend who is not involved in the fishing business.

    Environmental Conservation police arrested the pair at the Pine Island Marina in Groton on Thursday night as they returned from fishing, and agents seized 49 dead fish, DEP spokesman Dennis Schain said.

    Carlson and Benoit were allegedly in possession of 26 striped bass, which is 22 over the daily limit. Eleven of the 26 bass were less than the legal length of 28 inches. They were also in possession of 23 bluefish, three over the legal daily limit.

    Schain said overfishing and attempts to sell striped bass without a license are an ongoing problem in the state. The DEP stopped commercial fishing of striped bass in the 1970s because of depleted stock.

    "Connecticut has no commercial sale of striped bass. They can?t be taken from any Connecticut waters for any commercial purposes," said Sgt. Ryan Healy of the environmental conservation police.

    Healy said fishermen know the value of striped bass. "If someone is willing to pay money for it, people are willing to break the law to do it," he said.

    Striped bass that are fished and tagged from another state can be sold in Connecticut, he said.

    Since January 2005, 68 people have been arrested for possession of striped bass below the legal size, and eight were arrested for allegedly having too many. A few dozen arrests were made for selling the fish illegally, Schain said.

    Healy called Thursday?s arrest significant because of the number of fish that were taken. "We get lots of complaints about people taking striped bass and the suspected selling of them. We have a hard time catching them because there are so many fishermen and we have limited resources," he said.

    Schain said the limits exist to preserve and protect the stock. By taking undersized fish out of the water, it threatens the population, he said.

    Healy said an officer received an anonymous complaint and conducted surveillance Thursday night at the Pine Island Marina near Avery Point. "He was at the marina and they were fishing on their boat. He saw numerous coolers coming off the boat and brought to their vehicle," Healy said.

    Carlson and Benoit each were charged with possession of striped bass less than the legal size limit; possession of striped bass over the possession limit; commercial fishing without a license; possession of bluefish over the possession limit; and attempt to sell striped bass. The charges are misdemeanors.

    During questioning, the pair admitted that they were planning to sell the fish, Healy said. "The individuals were cooperative and understood what they were doing wasn?t legal," he said.

    Carlson and Benoit were released on a promise to appear Nov. 6 at Superior Court in New London. The fish were prepared for cooking and were donated to the Community Meal Center on Bank Street in New London, Schain said.

    Carlson said he usually fishes with someone who is a commercial license holder.

    He said he was sorry he put his friend, Benoit, in a bad situation. "I was aware of the laws. It was just a stupid mistake. The fish were there biting," said Carlson, who wanted to wrap up the fishing season. There is no closed season for striped bass, but they?re usually only available from spring to fall, Healy said.

    "I?m very much aware of my limits as a charter boat captain. Certainly a mistake that was made. That?s not a good way to end the season," Carlson said.

  2. #2
    NBS Extreme Angler
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Home Port
    Madison Ct
    This is a great post.From the sounds of it someone called, and DEP acted quick on it.Nice job DEP . Now what ever the court decides wont be a stiff enough penalty in my eyes.:violent2:< Thats what I'd do to them.I'm glad the fish went to a needy cause

  3. #3
    Bob & Mag's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Home Port
    Clinton, CT
    Hang em' .... No excuse! :angry6: :angry6:

  4. #4
    NBS Angling Addict plugmeister's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Home Port
    Branford, CT
    That's at least the second big bust in our area this year of veteran, pro anglers who know better. I realize how tempting it is to put $500 in your pocket on a Sat having done it back in the day when it was legal. But it ain't legal now. I say impound their boat for a year. What's a $500 fine when you made $5,000 selling fish this year?
    All fishermen lie, except you and me, and sometimes I'm not sure about you.

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