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DEC: Greenport Commercial Fisherman Charged With Falsifying Records

Sidney Smith, captain of local fishing boat Merit, is charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor involving harvesting fish and not accounting for the over-catch.

The following information was supplied by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police. A criminal charge is only an accusation, and does not indicate convictions.

Greenport-based commercial fisherman Sidney Smith has been charged with falsifying his boat’s trip report records by thousands of pounds for commercially valuable species including scup, summer flounder (fluke) and black sea bass, according to a report released today by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Smith, the 56-year-old captain of Greenport fishing vessel Merit, was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor charge for illegal commercialization of marine fish, DEC police said. The charge came after DEC police officers inspected the Merit on June 15 and seized approximately $10,000 worth of marine fish as evidence.

Captain Timothy Huss of DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement said that the inspection of the boat, which was docked at the Greenport commercial fisherman’s dock near Mitchell Park and the North Ferry terminal in the village, revealed that the hull contained 7,260 pounds of scup (porgies) — 4,050 pounds above what Smith recorded, and 1,245 pounds of summer flounder (fluke) — 495 pounds above what was recorded.

Officers also found 280 pounds of black sea bass, which is 230 pounds over the daily 50-pound limit for this species, police said. The commercial value of the underreported haul could have net the fishing boat captain approximately $10,000 if it had been sold at market on the day of the catch, according to the DEC report.

“With the recreational and commercial fisherman being under increased pressure to limit their catches due to increasing federal mandates, the falsification of trip report records and taking fish over allowable limit has a devastating impact on our local marine populations and people who depend on viable fishing stocks to make a living,” said DEC Regional Director Peter Scully in the statement.

DEC officials noted that as a participant in the Research Set Aside (RSA) program — a cooperative research program set up in 2002 by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and run by NOAA’s Fisheries Service — Smith was allowed to purchase fisheries quota that has been set aside to help pay for research and to harvest more fish than might normally be allowed in a day. But since Smith was not following the strict requirements and procedures for the program, he was held responsible for normal fishing rules, according to the DEC report.

John June 29, 2011 at 01:09 PM
Just so we are on the same page here, this guy poaches two and a half tons of fish, commits a couple of felonies, and we should be upset with the DEC for selling the fish? Why is it as a fisherman, you seem more upset that the DEC has a relationship with a market (to dispose of illegally caught fish) then you are with the guy that is breaking the law?
fisherman June 29, 2011 at 03:40 PM
i would expecta responce from someone who does not know the fishing programs there are confussing, the fisherman in question did in fact have permits for 12,000lbs of scup and 7000lbs of fluke a price of 25,700 dollars was apent to obtain these fish whats in question is that fooollwoing the rules of anothewr species had to be unloaded to avoided federal violations and keep fish that where donated to the skating ring fish fry, which was a great cause if you were bought up and raised in grenport.They have a issue of when a e mail was sent which it was, so the responce is where in america can you be charged with feloneys from the fact of when a e mail was sent??When a police officer pulls you over in a car does he ask you to send him 5.500 dollars in the morning and give you a ticket 8 days later maybe in mexico!Now a lawyer was obtained to fight them they decide it was best to explain 2 weeks later in the paper what a good job they have done to protect the fish And yes they have recoverd 10 times over and we export over 85% of we eat here in america
John June 30, 2011 at 12:14 AM
If you are "the fisherman in question" why not just admit it, give your story (with proof) to the paper? The bottom line here is not "being born in Greenport", 'fish fries"," skating rinks", "e-mails", "Mexico" or any other disjointed BS explanation, it's about poaching...and you got caught, so stop whining.

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