RISAA News

Anti-Poaching Legislation passes General Assembly
Illegal possession of striped bass now has more severe penalties

June 28, 2011

Recreational fishermen are allowed to take two 28+ inch striped bass per day.
This is the law for every state from Virginia to Maine.

On August 12, 2010, Albert Reeves was arrested by RIDEM officers after he landed his boat in Point Judith. Reeves was in possession of 18 striped bass, 10 of which were found in a hidden compartment below the deck of his boat. This angered RISAA members who had been complaining about striped bass poachers for a long time. To make matters worse, Reeves had been arrested in 2003 by RIDEM for the same offense. At that time he had 23 striped bass and was fined $450.

And it wasn't just Reeves. It's common knowledge that many illegal striped bass are taken from Rhode Island waters every year, harming the fish stock and undermining the efforts of fisheries managers to maintain healthy fishery for the future.

Enough is enough said RISAA members, and RISAA President Steve Medeiros, Legislative Chairman George Allen and David Westfall met with RIDEM Law Enforcement officials in an attempt to curb the theft of striped bass - the fish most responsible for the $160 million value of recreational fishing to the Rhode Island economy.

After a couple of meetings, it was determined that the penalties for the illegal possession of striped bass needed to be increased. The current fine of $50 was archaic when the current price of illegal stripers was $75-$150 PER FISH!

The current fine was not a deterrent to poachers. It was the cost of doing business.

RISAA went to our recreational fishing supporters in the House and Senate to have the law changed.

2011 House Bill H.5693 (read it) and Senate Bill S.0972 (read it) were introduced to increase the penalties.

Everyone supported it: recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen, charter captains, RIDEM.
(Only the poachers would be unhappy!)

In June both bills passed the General Assembly and was signed by the Governor on July 5.

HOW THEY VOTED
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
YEAS - 66
The Honorable Speaker Fox and Representatives Ajello, Azzinaro, Bennett, Blazejewski, Brien, Carnevale, Chippendale, Cimini, Coderre, Corvese, Costa, DaSilva, DeSimone, Diaz, Dickinson, Edwards, Fellela, Ferri, Flaherty, Gallison, Guthrie, Handy, Hearn, Hull, Jackson, Jacquard, Johnston, Keable, Kennedy, Lally, Lima, MacBeth, Marcello, Martin, Mattiello, McCauley, McLaughlin, McNamara, Medina, Melo, Menard, Messier, Morgan, Morrison, Naughton, Newberry, Nunes, O’Grady, O’Neill, Palumbo, Petrarca, Ruggiero, San Bento, Schadone, Serpa, Silva, Slater, Tanzi, Tarro, Tomasso, Trillo, Ucci, Valencia, Williams, Winfield.
NAYS - 7
Representatives Ehrhardt, Gordon, Phillips, Reilly, Savage, Walsh, Watson.
THE SENATE
YEAS - 30
The Honorable President Paiva Weed and Senators Algiere, Bates, Ciccone, Cote, DaPonte, DeVall, DiPalma, Felag, Fogarty, Gallo, Goodwin, Hodgson, Jabour, Kettle, Lombardo, Lynch, Maher, McCaffrey, Metts, Miller, Moura, Nesselbush, Perry, Picard, Pichardo, Ruggerio, Sosnowski, Tassoni, Walaska.

NAYS - 3
Senators O’Neill, Pinga, Sheehan.
Remember the NAYS at the next election!