New York Cuffs & Collars – June 13th, 2014

The honest captain
(Queens County)

The Region 2 Marine Enforcement Unit was on boat patrol in Jamaica Bay. The team approached a group of boats fishing for tautog (blackfish) west of the Cross Bay Bridge. When approached, the captain of the vessel exclaimed, “I’m not going to lie, I’ve got short fish.” ECOs Anthony Rigoli and Brent Wilson quickly secured the cooler of fish. Twenty-one of the tautog were found to be short and the captain received two tickets for undersized and over the limit tautog. Luckily for the honest captain, he was allowed to keep the one legal sized tautog he had landed. The remaining fish were released back to the waters of the state.

Hidden striped bass
(New York County)

ECOs Wes Leubner and Dustin Dainack performed multiple fishing checks in the area of Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Manhattan. The main purpose of these checks was to determine whether the fishermen were complying with the creel limits and minimum size requirements of the catches of the day. At approximately 9 p.m., Leubner encountered a man who claimed to have caught no fish that evening. Leubner proceeded to check the man’s New York State Recreational Marine Fishing registry, which was current. He was just about to hand the man’s information back when the sound of something rustling in the bushes behind them interrupted the conversation. To the fisherman’s misfortune, his two hidden, undersized striped bass had just alerted the officers to their presence. A search of the bushes revealed two 18 inch striped bass in plastic bags, well below the minimum legal size for striped bass of 28 inches. The man admitted that the fish were, in fact, his, and was issued a ticket for possessing undersized striped bass.

Poaching on Rockaway Reef
(Queens County)

Two individuals who were fishing from a boat were approached by DEC officers on patrol at Rockaway Reef on the Atlantic Ocean. As the boats drew abreast, the officers asked how many fish the men had on board. Rather than answering the question, the operator immediately went into explaining his culling techniques and how he intended to release any extra fish into the water alive. After a short investigation of a cooler and the live basket, officers found and measured five scup under the legal size limit, 10 tautog under the legal size limit, five tautog over the possession limit with two people on board and 11 black sea bass under the legal size limit. Neither of the New Jersey residents had their New York State Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. Each received five summonses for their violations.

Undersized striped bass
(Bronx County)

ECOs Jeannette Bastedo and Eric Dowling were patrolling Orchard Beach Park when they observed a fisherman surf casting. Upon approaching and interviewing the fisherman, he stated he only had two sea robins and took them out of the front pouch of his backpack. The officers noticed a significant bulge at the bottom of the pack and examined the bag’s contents. Secreted under all of the fisherman’s tackle was one small striped bass. The fish was measured to be 17 inches long, nearly a foot short of the legal minimum size of 28 inches.

Fish market detail
(Bronx County)

Fifteen new ECOs and their respective field training officers began an overnight detail of the New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration estimates approximately 5 percent of all U.S. seafood sales are conducted at the Fulton Fish Market. The market is 400,000 square feet and can house 37 wholesale businesses. Such a substantial facility requires compliance checks regularly. With lobster gauges and tape measurers in hand the DEC officers advanced through the market, looking for non-compliance of the environmental conservation law as well as New York state rules and regulations. The new officers were not exactly welcomed by the vendors, with pointing, staring and some hostility, but they did their job professionally and effectively. Numerous tickets were issued for violations, including undersized black bass, over-sized striped bass, as well as untagged clams and under-sized lobster. In several of the cases, illegal commercialization was charged due to the value of the illegal fish.

Illegal surf clam harvest
(Nassau County)

ECO Sean Reilly received a phone call that the vessel Asherah was harvesting surf clams in the Atlantic Ocean off Long Beach without a permit. Reilly responded with U.S. Coast Guard Station Jones Beach on its 25-foot patrol boat. The Asherah was found actively dredging clams and was boarded by Reilly and a Coast Guard boarding team. The vessel had five 15-bushel cages of surf clams and another eight bushels of loose clams. The operator of the vessel admitted that he knew he was in an area where he did not have a permit to harvest clams by mechanical means and was issued an appearance ticket by Reilly for the commercial misdemeanor and the clams were returned to the water. This was Reilly’s second significant surf clam case for the year, the first of which he received the Fred Drew Award from the Division of Law Enforcement for his efforts in a surf clam case at the beginning of the year, in which $11,000 worth of contaminated surf clams was kept from public consumption, resulting in an $85,000 administrative penalty.

‘Stealing Wildlife’ presentation
(New York County)

Lt. John Fitzpatrick was invited back to the American Museum of Natural History for the fourth year in a row as a guest speaker at the Museum’s “Stealing Wildlife” program. This after-school program aims to educate students in New York City about the fundamentals of biodiversity and conservation science. As part of the program, the students are exposed to various professionals who work in the field or otherwise deal with biodiversity issues as part of their work. Guest speakers include professionals in the fashion industry, restaurant business and government. Lt. Fitzpatrick provided the students with a brief history and overview of the DEC and its Division of Law Enforcement and then focused on the many aspects of the illegal wildlife trade. The presentation was well-received by the students and hopefully will lead to their continued interest in the environment, as well as possibly a career with the DEC one day.

NYC Parks enforcement outreach
(New York County)

On two occasions, ECO Dustin Dainack spoke to approximately 25 parks enforcement officers in Battery Park, Manhattan.  Dainack was asked to speak to the officers about the numerous complaints the parks officers were receiving from some residents about the growing number of fishermen in the posh NYC park. Dainack emphasized how the fishermen have a right to be there and that the growing number of fishermen is a good sign that the fish are thriving. Dainack also informed the parks officers to call an ECO if and when they ever see the fishermen poaching in Battery Park. 

Capsized boat rescue
(Queens County)

The Region 2 Marine Enforcement Unit consisting of Lt. Bob Peinkofer and ECOs Anthony Rigoli, Brent Wilson, Waldemar Auguscinski, Jason Hillard, Jeffrey Krueger and Kevin Thomas received a mayday distress call over the radio stating that a boat had capsized off Breezy Point near Jamaica Bay and that three individuals were in the water. Upon arrival they found the three individuals on a commercial vessel and soon took them aboard. While they weren’t injured they were shaken up and shivering from the cold water. The new 44-foot Archangel SAFE boat has a sealed and climate controlled cabin inside and the trio were able to take refuge while they were transported to Bay End Marina in Brooklyn. 

Categories: Cuffs & Collars

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