- Minnesota Angler Charged for Being Way Over Catch Limits
- Environmental Group Pushes for False Killer Whale to Be Listed as Endangered
- Scotland to Create First Artificial Reef in Its Waters
A 39-year-old Minnesota fisherman has been charged with a gross misdemeanor after a conservation officer found him in possession of 433 sunfish and 40 crappies. The legal catch limits are just 20 sunfish and 10 crappies. The officer observed the man placing a bag of fish into a locked compartment on his boat while on Pelican Lake in early April, at which point he confronted the angler and asked him how the fishing was that day. The angler replied that it had been okay, and showed the officer a cooler with about a dozen fish in it. When asked if he had any more fish on board, the angler denied it several times before relenting and admitting that he had around 100 more fish on the boat. Pressing further, the officer asked the angler if he had any more fish at home, and with the angler’s consent, a search turned up 11 bags of fish in the freezer, bringing the total of illegally caught fish to 443. The charges carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a fine of $3,000; his fishing license, boat, motors, trailer, and all the fish have been seized. If convicted, he could lose fishing privileges in the state for three years.
An environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in order to get a decision on whether or not Hawaii’s population of false killer whales will be listed as endangered. False killer whales are actually dolphins, found in tropical and temperate waters across the globe. However, the population in Hawaii has been deemed to be at high risk for extinction in the next 75 years by scientists from the NMFS, and the administration recommended 18 months ago that it be listed as endangered. Yet no action has been taken, despite a federal law that requires a decision to be made within one year, raising the ire of conservationists who fear for the dolphins’ survival. The biggest threat to the population is longline fishing, due to the dolphins’ taste for what the fishermen are also catching, leading to the dolphins being caught on the line inadvertently. Many longline vessels in the area have begun using a style of hook that reduces chances of dolphin bycatch.
The Lochaline Dive Center in Scotland hosted a visit from Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, who showed a great deal of interest in the unique conditions of the west coast of Scotland that is a huge draw for SCUBA divers. The owners of the dive center presented a proposal to sink a decommissioned naval vessel in the Sound of Mull to create the first dive site of its kind in the area, to which Prince Edward voiced his enthusiasm and support. Though there are 22 such artificial reef projects around the world, this would be the first in Scotland. They likened it to the only other artificial reef in the UK, located at Plymouth, whose ten years in the area has seen 42,000 dives, millions of dollars flushed into the local economy, and the cultivation of more than 260 marine species. A trust was created last year for the project, called SMART (Sound of Mull Artificial Reef Trust), and if all goes well, it is hoped that a vessel will be sunk as soon as 2014.