Boston Harbor Gillnet Fisherman Charged with Violations


On Wednesday, June 28, crew aboard the Massachusetts Environmental Police Patrol Boat Thomas Paine located an interesting vessel fishing with a gillnet off Deer Island in Boston Harbor. As officers approached the vessel, they observed the operator’s creative use of a pickup truck cap as a canopy.

 The crew determined that the vessel operator was in possession of a valid Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries surface gillnet permit; however, the fisherman had very limited knowledge on how to safely and legally fish with a surface gillnet. 

 The area of Deer Island where the fisherman had set his gear has a very strong current, which caused the large net to roll and fill with kelp, lobster traps, and other debris. Officers initially directed the fisherman to haul the net onboard his 16’ vessel so that it may be inspected; however, it was quickly determined that due to the weight of the debris collected within the net, combined with the force of the current, it was much more than the fisherman or his vessel could manage. 

 For both the fisherman’s safety and to prevent the gear from being lost, the crew of the Thomas Paine began hauling the gill net by hand. After approximately 45 minutes of hauling, the crew successfully retrieved the net onboard. 

 Upon inspection, numerous violations were found:

– The net had been altered and the required floating headline had been removed;
– The net did not have the required Whale Safe weak links; 
– The net did not have proper anchors;
– The net was not marked with the proper high flyers, buoys, buoy line markings, and head rope permit numbers;
– The net was be being fished within the In Shore Restricted Waters, an area closed to fishing with nets year round.

 A safety inspection was also completed on the fisherman’s vessel; the operator did not have the required visual distress signals or a Type IV throwable PFD.

 The fisherman was issued a summons for all of the violations. The net was culled by the crew of the Thomas Paine and numerous crabs, skates, and lobsters were released back into the water.