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State of Mass. raises fines for poachers

Penalties for noncriminal fishing violations will run as high as $400.

BOSTON — Poachers will face stiffer penalties later this year after the state adopted new provisions that have raised fishing violation fines as well as made other changes state law.

Noncriminal fishing fines will be doubled in November, along with a number of other changes, after the passage in August of the Environmental Bond Bill.

Cow on ice.

Non-criminal fishery violations, such as catching an undersized bass, were established about 25 years ago and are akin to a speeding ticket, said Jared Silva, a regulatory and adjudicatory law clerk with the Division of Marine Fisheries.

Poaching a striped bass, a fish that could be worth $100 in its own right, normally carries a $50 fine, Silva said.

“We’re now doubling that,” he said. Noncriminal fines will now run either $100, $200 or $400, with the latter reserved for the most egregious violations. Environmental police officers will also be able to hand out a supplementary $10-per-fish fine on top of the noncriminal fines, a new provision, Silva said.

The raising of the fines comes as state officials try to stymie poaching. Officials heard from fishermen and other stakeholders that the current fines weren’t enough of a deterrent, especially at the Cape Cod Canal.

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