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Editorial: State must send message to perch poachers

Editorial: State must send message to perch poachers

Stiff fines will deter those who would take too many fish

Anyone who has ever fished in this part of New York knows how plentiful the yellow perch are, and how, even when the other fish aren’t biting, perch always seem to be. That might not always be the case if the state doesn’t do more to keep dishonest fishermen like the ones from Fort Ann arrested twice this winter, from taking more than their daily limit (50) of perch.

Not a month after they — along with two other men — were arrested on Lake George with nearly 500 of the small but tasty panfish, Patrick Collins and John Fisher got reeled in again last Friday after a state environmental officer spotted them yet again. This time their haul, for just the two of them, was 430.

Though the men denied it, it would appear, based on the number of fish in their possession, that they were indeed planning to sell some to restaurants, where they reportedly bring $1.20 per pound whole. Thus, in addition to being charged with taking more than their daily limit — with penalties of $250, plus $100 for every fish over the limit possible — they were cited for possession with intent to sell, which carries a fine of up to $500.

We hope some serious fines get assessed here, because the overage was pretty egregious and because a stiff fine is probably necessary to put these guys out of business and send a message to other perch poachers. (After their first arrest, the men were fined but $250.)

Perch may not be prized game fish like bass or pike, but they do offer a way for novice anglers to gain fishing experience, provide a source of tasty, healthy food for people who need it, and serve a function in the ecosystem of a large lake.

Though the ice-fishing season will soon be over, state Department of Environmental Conservation officers must stay on top of this problem in the future, lest the number of brazen fishermen proliferate instead of the perch population.

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