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DEC: Party boat anglers caught dumping illegal fish in Montauk Harbor

Officers from the Department of Environmental Conservation, marine

Officers from the Department of Environmental Conservation, marine enforcement unit, display coolers containing fish that were being tossed overboard in Montauk Harbor. Credit: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

State marine enforcement officers issued eight tickets and 22 warnings last month after people aboard a party boat were spotted throwing “hundreds of pounds” of illegal fish overboard in Montauk Harbor, authorities said.

The boat was later found to have hundreds more undersized and over-the-limit fish — a combined 1,000 fish in all, authorities said last week.

The Department of Environmental Conservation, in an email, said a marine enforcement unit was patrolling Montauk Harbor Aug. 31 when officers confronted fishermen on the boat, Fin Chaser, who were tossing fish overboard. Anglers ignored orders to stop, the DEC said

Once at the Star Island Yacht Club dock in Montauk, officers discovered 500 fish in 17 coolers. They issued tickets and warnings for possession of undersized black sea bass and fluke, excess possession of sea bass and scup, failure to stop dumping on command and an incomplete vessel trip report.

DEC rules for the day allowed each fisherman to possess up to three black sea bass and three fluke, and 30 porgies. More than 500 fish were also estimated to have been thrown overboard in the harbor, DEC spokesman Benning DeLaMater said.

The agency, he said, “has received a number of complaints from the fishing community concerning over-the-limit sea bass fishing of late,” but he noted the action was spotted during a “routine patrol.”

The agency said 46 people were fishing aboard the Fin Chaser, which can carry more than 50 passengers. Anglers pay $90 for inshore fishing for porgies and black sea bass from May to August, according to its website.

Captain Keith Williams, who owns and operates the boat, declined to comment. Under current law, Williams is not held responsible for the fishermen on his boat “unless DEC officers witness staff taking responsibility for the catch [or] assisting with the catch.”

DEC did not release the identities of the seven individuals, in addition to the captain, who were issued tickets for violations with penalties of up to $250. Williams received a violation for having an incomplete vessel trip report. A person who was not named was issued a ticket for misdemeanor failure to stop dumping, which carries a penalty of up to $1,000.

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