To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between May 25-31 made 2,924 contacts with anglers, boaters and the general public, including 328 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 82 complaints and issued 63 citations, 11 of which were related to the C&D Canal Conservation Area and associated recreational trail, where there is an increased Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police presence.
Incidents of particular note were:
· On May 29, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers cited commercial fisherman Jason T. Watson, 37, of Milton, for dumping plastic solid waste materials off his commercial fishing vessel, the Carolyn K, near Cedar Creek. Watson was given the option of paying a $637 fine including court costs or requesting a court date.
· On May 26, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers cited commercial fisherman Joseph Cherneski, 44, of Milford, for failing to remove his fishing equipment (a gill net) from the water after a season closure date. Cherneski was given the option of paying a $107 fine including court costs or requesting a court date.
· On May 25, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers arrested James J. Bullen, 55, of Wilmington, and charged him with operating a motor vessel under the influence of alcohol at the Lewes Public Boat Ramp. Bullen was taken to Delaware State Police Troop 7 for a breathalyzer test and released, pending a later court date at Justice of the Peace Court 14 in Georgetown.
· On May 25, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers conducted concentrated boating safety checks in the Murderkill River and at Bowers Beach Public Boat Ramp to ensure public safety over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Three officers spent 12 hours underway on two patrol vessels, conducted seven vessel boardings, contacted 47 members of the public and issued one warning for leaving a boat unattended at a public ramp.
Citations issued by offense type included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:
Wildlife Conservation: Operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area (4)*, trespassing after hours on a state wildlife area (1)*, excessive speed on a state wildlife area (2)*, and operating an unregistered motor vehicle on a state wildlife area (1)*, New Castle County.
Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Fishing without a license (23), New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties; Illegal method of take/use of lift net in tidal water (2), and trespassing to fish (1), New Castle County; Possession of undersized blue crab (6), and possession of undersized summer flounder (2), Kent and Sussex counties; Possession of undersized white perch (1), illegal method of take/possession of conch without a conch pot (1), possession of undersized knobbed conch (1), possession of undersized hard clam (1), and tending more than two recreational crab pots (1), Sussex County.
Commercial: Failure to remove fishing equipment/gill net from the water after a season closure date (1), Kent County.
Boating and Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets (5), and operating a motor vessel with an expired registration/operating an unregistered vessel (3), Kent and Sussex counties; No boating safety certificate (1), Kent County; Operating a motor vessel under the influence of alcohol (1), negligent operation of a vessel (2), and no life jacket on a child age 12 or younger as required by law (1), Sussex County.
Other: Dumping solid waste materials (1), Kent County; Parking violation (1), Sussex County.
* These citations were issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area. In addition, the following citations not marked with an asterisk also were issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area: Fishing without a license (3).
Are you AWARE?
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police reminds paddle boarders – especially those new to the increasingly popular sport – to review Delaware’s boating laws and regulations and how they apply to paddle boards before heading out on the waterways.
In recent years, the sport of paddle boarding has grown immensely in popularity in Delaware. Paddle boarders can often be seen on many of Delaware’s waterways throughout the summertime.
So just what is a paddle board? A paddle board is configured similarly to a surfboard, but is usually longer and thicker than a traditional surfboard. The operator of a paddle board stands upright on the board and propels it through the water by using a long paddle.
The United States Coast Guard and the state of Delaware recognize a paddle board as a vessel when operated outside the confines of a surfing or swimming area. Therefore, many of the same requirements for personal flotation devices, visual distress signals, sound producing devices and the use of a navigational light after sunset apply when paddle boards are operated in Delaware waters.
A paddle board less than 16 feet in length must meet the following safety equipment requirements when operated in Delaware waters:
· All paddle boarders must have a United States Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board.
· Any child age 12 and younger must wear a USCG-approved life jacket at all times while on a paddle board.
· Paddle boarders must carry a whistle or horn, or some other sounding device capable of making an efficient sound signal.
· When operating between the hours of sunset and sunrise, paddle boarders must carry a visual distress signal – an electric distress light or flares – suitable for night use. This applies to all boards operated on coastal waters and directly-connected waters (bays, sounds, harbors, rivers, inlets, etc.) which are two miles wide or wider.
· When operating between the hours of sunset and sunrise, a paddle boarder also must have an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light ready at hand for use as a navigation light, which must be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.
Paddle boards longer than 16 feet may have additional safety requirements.
For more information on safe boating practices in Delaware, including more details on life jackets and other safety equipment, please visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Delaware_Boating_Safety.
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Hunting/Pages/OpGameTheft.aspx.
Vol. 45, No. 184