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John's Journal... Entry 251, Day 2


Check For Drugs

Editor's Note: As you know, salt-water fishing has a numberof size limits, bag limits and restrictions. But do you know who enforces these laws? Who keeps the commercial fishermen, the netters, the oystermen and the recreational fishermen from breaking the law, taking too many fish and/or fishing in closed areas? In my home state of Alabama and many other states, the Enforcement Division of the Marine Resources Department of the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has this responsibility. To learn more about who the fish cops are, what they do, and why they are important to all of us, I went on patrol with them in coastal areas recently at night and during the day. I learned that they have some of the most-sophisticated surveillance equipment of any law enforcement agency. Besides radar, they have night-vision binoculars and other devices to spot and track law violators. They also do drug enforcement, health-department enforcement and immigration enforcement and are cross-trained with many state and federal agents. This week we'll meet Alabama's fish cops, the Alabama Marine Resources Enforcement Division (AMRED), and learn what they do.

Phillips: One of the members of our crew,while we were on nightpatrol was Captain Glenn Kornegay. What kind of drug cases have you had Captain Kornegay?
KORNEGAY: Most of the cases we have had have been what we call plain-view cases. In other words, we make the case when the drugs are in plain view. For instance, one night I was arresting a suspect. As he took his hands out of his pockets, he threw his dope in the water. So, we recovered the dope and arrested him on a drug violation as well as a fishing violation.

PHILLIPS: What is the worst violation you have ever seen as far as a fishing violation goes?
KORNEGAY: I caught a fellow one time on a routine check who had 35-undersized red snapper. We were checking the fishermen at the dock after a day of fishing. We let the fishermen pull their boats out of the water and get them up on the trailers. Once this boat was out of the water, I approached the fisherman, boarded the boat and found the undersized snapper. I asked the angler how they got all these undersized snapper. The fisherman said, "I just couldn't stop catching them." The fine for having all those short snapper was over $2,000.

PHILLIPS: I asked Captain Chris Blankenship "What is one of the worst violations you have ever seen?"
BLANKENSHIP: One Sunday I was checking fishermen at the Causeway just outside of Mobile near the battleship "Alabama". As I approached this fisherman, he had a fish on the line, and I noticed he didn't have an ice chest. When he brought the fish in, he just seemed to put the redfish in the rocks. While I was talking with him, he caught another redfish. He also put that fish in the rocks and cast out and caught a third fish. Now the limit on redfish in Alabama is three fish, and this guy was catching redfish so fast and not caring for them very well, that I began to look around the rocks. I found a croaker sack right behind the fisherman, and I could see fish moving around in that sack. I counted the fish in the sack, and the man had 30 redfish in the sack besides the three I had just seen him catch. When I asked him why he had kept so many red fish, he said, "The fish were biting so well, and I was catching so many fish, that I just couldn't stop." Because the fisherman couldn't stop, he paid a $500 fine.

PHILLIPS: What is the most-common violation?
BLANKENSHIP: Our most-common violation is fishing without a salt-water fishing license. If you're fishing in the State of Alabama in salt water, and not on a charter boat, you have to have a salt-water fishing license. This license costs residents $16.00, and non-residents have to pay the same amount for their salt water fishing license that Alabama fishermen have to pay when they go to that fisherman's state and buy a fishing license. For instance, if you are from Louisiana, which charges out-of-state fishermen $67.00 for an out-of-state salt water fishing license, then you have to pay $67.00 for an Alabama fishing license. However, most out-of-state licenses are only about $31.00.




Check back each day this week for more about FISH COPS: THE WATCHDOG OF THE MARINE RESOURCES ...

Day 1 - What Is AMRED?
Day 2 - Check For Drugs
Day 3 - Reef Violations
Day 4 - Lady Fish Cops
Day 5 - Heidi Lofton, The Other Lady Cop

John's Journal