Jim, I believe the problem of Asians and others hook-and-lining any sized tog has a larger impact on the fishery than many folks think. Fish and Wildlife enforcement realize the situation but often have bigger violators to fry.
This summer, I will be hot on the tog-poaching issue, including photographing violators around the rocks of Barnegat Inlet (ground zero for land-based tog abuses). However, my efforts will in no way be to single out Asians or other minorities, often guilty of taking too-small fish. I just want to manifest my belief that once poaching begins it has no end, as violators get more and more brazen -- and the reality sets in that the Division of Fish and Wildlife is woefully undermanned. By the by, I am also going after the doubly-brazen summer snorklers, who swim the jetties and groins of LBI, shooting any sized fish of any species, as if no regs apply to this form of fish taking. I'm actually going to use local police to put the scare into those violators. The local authorities might not write them up but it’ll get them plenty paranoid.
There is one important angle to keep in mind during what is essentially an ongoing poacher watch among the law-abiding angling public. It is a tad too easy for such a neighborhood watch, as it were, to decay into one of those highly ruinous "Big Brother" syndromes. Truth be told, at a distance it's kinda tough to tell a 16.5 fluke from a 17.5-incher. I find a far more accurate read on a boat possibly bending the state's minimum size is a law-of-averages look. If you and most every other boat in sight can't manage a single take-home yet a boat or two in the pack is coolering fish left and right, you just might have some poachers.
The problem is what to do next.
No, you cannot make a citizen's arrest. Why? Because I say so -- out of my fear of the consequences. I can just about guarantee that violence will break out in no time flat should you take to first-person confrontations. I don't know what it is but even I get a surge of macho-itis when I'm aboard a vessel. Tempers often seem oddly intense out there. The best bet when you see a suspected fishing reg violator is to get any ID numbers on the vessel. The name is of some use but not that accurate an identifier. Then use the state's hotline. I think a written warning sent to a suspected poacher will surely get that violator thinking twice and again.
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