Pisces Fisheries Inc. of Wheatley, Ontario, was fined $5,000 for fishing illegally in Ohio waters.
Pisces Fisheries was sentenced by Magistrate Louis P. Wargo III on Dec. 21 in Ottawa County Municipal Court in Port Clinton.
"This was a great multi-agency response," said Gino Barna, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife law supervisor for the Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit. "Gill nets have not been a major issue on Lake Erie in recent years because of the cooperation with other agencies. Because of this support network, incidents like this do not go undetected, and Ohio's resources are better protected."
The charges were the result of the Adco II, a gill net tug owned by Pisces Fisheries, fishing with gill nets in Ohio waters on two separate occasions. On May 5, the ODNR Division of Wildlife, with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Station Marblehead and ODNR Division of Watercraft, five nets belonging to the Adco II were found in Ohio waters north of North Bass Island.
On May 9, five more nets set by the Adco II were found by the U.S. Border Patrol south of Middle Sister Island in Ohio waters. The USCG monitored the nets throughout the night and boarded the Adco II the following morning.
Wildlife investigators from the Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit investigated the incidents. Two charges were filed for possessing gill nets in Ohio, and two charges were filed for fishing with commercial nets in Ohio without a commercial license.
The use of gill nets is not a legal method for taking fish in Ohio. Although commercial fishermen may use other types of nets, such as trap nets and seines, gill nets were outlawed in Ohio in 1983.
Anyone who observes or suspects wildlife violations are occurring may report illegal activity by calling the Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) hotline toll free at 1-800-POACHER.