Three East End fishermen are facing felony charges after they were discovered illegally spearing striped bass in Block Island Sound for commercial sale, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Tuesday.
The men, who the DEC said surrendered to state police on Oct. 4, are Christopher R. Miller, of Montauk, captain of the boat, the Sea Spearit; Erik A. Oberg, of Montauk, and Mica Marder, of East Hampton.
They are expected to be arraigned in Southold Town Court Nov. 4, the DEC said. Calls to the men were not answered or returned Tuesday.
A fourth man from Connecticut also will be charged, the DEC said.
State conservation law forbids commercially spearing fish, primarily because fishermen can't reliably measure a fish to determine if it's of legal size until after it has been mortally wounded.
The DEC said enforcement officers discovered the men illegally spearing fish near Valiant Rock in Block Island Sound in late August. Officers seized 74 striped bass with "spear wounds evident in their gill areas," and turned them over to the Suffolk County medical examiner's office. The 74 striped bass, weighing a total of 926.5 pounds, had a value of $4,632, the DEC said.
The three men were charged with a Class E felony of taking striped bass for commercial purpose with prohibited spears in excess of $1,500 in value, the DEC said. They were also charged with two violations for taking undersized fish and holding untagged striped bass.