Gill Netter Charged For Fishing in Ohio Lake Erie Waters|
SANDUSKY, OHIO -- Charges have been filed against a Canadian gill net operation after enforcement officers recovered seven illegally set gill nets on the Ohio side of the international border on Lake Erie during a special surveillance project, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.
The nets were discovered by enforcement officers in an area west of Middle Sister Island about 300 yards into Ohio waters on May 11. Gill nets, widely used in the Canadian commercial fishing industry, have been prohibited in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie since 1983.
Charges were filed Friday (May 19) in Oregon Municipal Court against Paolo Adragna of Leamington, Ontario, captain of the Canadian vessel Coranet, and Gaspare Adragna and Pierina Adragna, owners of the vessel, also of Leamington.
"The apprehension of the illegal commercial netter was the result of a joint surveillance operation undertaken by numerous agencies surrounding the lake," said Mike Budzik, chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. "Our agencies have stepped up efforts and will continue to work in unison to maximize efforts to stop future illegal commercial fishing activity in U.S. waters."
Agencies involved in the surveillance operation included the Division of Wildlife, Michigan Department of Natural Resources , Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, United States Coast Guard, and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The project was coordinated through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's Lake Erie law enforcement subcommittee.
The surveillance project involved officers and agents from the various agencies using watercraft and aircraft to patrol the Lake Erie boundary between the United States and Canada, specifically in search of possible encroachment of Canadian commercial gill netters in U. S. waters.
The net locations were plotted using GPS (Global Positioning System). Twenty-three nets were seized, but only seven of the nets were found to be in Ohio waters. The required identification on the flag staff used to mark the nets indicated the nets were licensed to the Canadian vessel Coranet, that was located nearby in Canadian waters.
The nets were transported to the Division of Wildlife's Lake Erie Enforcement Office in Sandusky. No walleyes, the principal species targeted by Canada's gill net fishermen, were found in the nets. Two white bass and six gizzard shad were recovered.
The three people involved were each charged with fishing with gill nets in Ohio waters and commercial fishing without an Ohio commercial fishing license.
Just recently, fisheries biologists from the Division of Wildlife's Lake Erie Fisheries Research Unit in Sandusky received $5,000 for computer equipment as a result of a separate illegal gill netting case. In a 1999 case investigated by the USFWS, a Canadian commercial fishermen was ordered to pay $15,000 to enhance and protect fishery resources on the Great Lakes through the Great Lakes Fisheries Conservation Funds. The funds are administered by the non-profit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The research office received a grant from the foundation, which will be used to purchase an onboard portable computer system for the office's newly acquired research vessel.