Fish Rustlers Go to the Hoosegow

Fish Rustlers Go to the Hoosegow

A Washington, DC fish wholesaler has been found guilty of buying rockfish from a gang of rustlers. A co-owner and a fish buyer will go to the pokey, and the company has been fined $875,000. The DC bass bandits were collared last December. The rockfish (Morone saxatilis or Roccus saxatilis), also known as the striped bass, is the state fish of Maryland. It was overfished for decades, and harvesting is tightly controlled.

A posse has been roundin’ up rockfish rustlers for some time. Convictions were based on investigations by a special task force of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Natural Resources Police, and the Virginia Marine Police between 2003 through 2007.

More fish-poaching polecats were rounded up in past years. Federal prosecutors from the DOJ Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland obtained 22 felony convictions in all, 14 fishermen from Maryland and Virginia, five seafood wholesalers,and three seafood wholesale companies in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

“Is it Bernie Madoff? Maybe not,” said U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte.”But this is serious business.” The varmints violated state conservation laws and the federal Lacey Act (16 U.S.C. § 3371–3378), signed by notorious fish-hugger William McKinley in 1900.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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