MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Patrol recently wrapped up criminal cases against three fish house owners caught buying red drum without reporting the transaction.
Donald Carlisle Gilgo of Coastal Seafood in Sea Level, William Jerry Warren of Fresh Ketch in Grantsboro and Floyd Shelton Cuthrell of S&S Seafood in Aurora were all found guilty in their respective county courts of not recording fish on a trip ticket. They were ordered to pay replacement costs to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Conservation Fund totaling $9,671.50.
The Marine Fisheries Conservation Fund is administered by the Marine Fisheries Commission and is used for marine and estuarine resources management, including education about the importance of conservation.
The cases began in October 2009 when Marine Patrol officers received information that a fish dealer in Carteret County was possibly buying large amounts of red drum from local fishermen and not recording the transactions as required by state law. At the time, state fishing rules allowed fishermen to harvest and sell only seven red drum per day, and the weight of the red drum could not exceed the weight of other fish, like flounder and mullet, in the catch.
In response, officers examined trip tickets from 31 fish houses statewide that deal in red drum and compared them with their sales receipts for the period from June 2009 to October 2009. Fish dealers in North Carolina are required to report every fish they buy from a fisherman on a trip ticket.
“We found that at three of the fish houses there was a major discrepancy between what was reported on trip tickets and what was sold,” said Lt. Harold Knudsen, with the Marine Patrol’s Central District.
On March 1, Marine Patrol Officer T.E. Saunders charged Gilgo with eight violations of state fisheries laws. Officer Bryan Spain charged Warren with 16 violations and Cuthrell with eight violations of fisheries laws. In court, all the charges were consolidated into one charge each of failure to record each transaction at the time of landing on a form provided by the Division of Marine Fisheries.
Cuthrell pleaded no contest April 15 in Beaufort County District Court. He received a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay $971.50 in replacement cost to the Marine Fisheries Conservation Fund for 670 pounds of unreported red drum in addition to fines and court costs. He was also ordered to turn in a trip ticket for the unrecorded fish.
Warren pleaded guilty April 30 in Pamlico County District Court. He received a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay $1,450 in replacement cost to the Marine Fisheries Conservation Fund for 1,000 pounds of unreported red drum in addition to fines and court costs. He was also ordered to turn in a trip ticket for the unrecorded fish.
The 6,670 pounds of fish that was not recorded as a result of these violations will be deducted from the 2010-2011 red drum commercial cap.
For more information, contact Knudsen at (252) 808-8135 or Harold.Knudsen@ncdenr.gov.