Natural Resources Police officers recovered another 1,500 yards of illegal fishing net containing 300 pounds of striped bass Wednesday night in Eastern Bay off Kent Island.
This is the eighth time in three weeks that patrol boats dragging grappling hooks have snagged submerged nets. The total length of confiscated nets is 5.5 miles and the weight of the poached striped bass, also known as rockfish, is 12.6 tons.
NRP Sgt. Art Windemuth said the latest nets had been in the water for some time because officers found decomposing mud shad in them along with live striped bass. The striped bass were donated to a Kent Island charity that distributes food.
Meanwhile, Department of Natural Resources officials are trying to decide whether to reopen commercial gill netting for the final two days of the season next week. The agency closed the season on Feb. 4 after the initial 10 tons of fish was hauled in, fearing the state could exceed its monthly quota.
With 200,000 pounds of fish remaining in the quota, watermen are demanding that they be allowed to fish Tuesday and Wednesday. The Tidal Fish Advisory Commission, consisting largely of commercial interests, is expected to take up the issue at its meeting tonight in Annapolis.
On Tuesday night, the Sport Fish Advisory Commission voted unanimously to recommend keeping the season closed.
DNR officials are expected to make a decision Friday.
Meanwhile, the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the poachers has grown by $8,000 to a total of $30,500.