Conservation Law Enforcement Corner September 2020
Chatham County: As we’ve seen on the news recently, the duties of DNR Law Enforcement rangers can vary greatly, as can the various agencies officers work with. An example occurred May 27, 2017 when DNR teamed with NOAA officers in what are called Dockside JEA (Joint Enforcement Agreement) patrols.
Cpl. Barry Britt and Cpl. Jay Morgan worked with NOAA Enforcement officer Ben Hughes and Sgt. Cindy Miller to conduct patrols at shrimp docks and boat ramps in Chatham County. As Morgan and Hughes passed the Lazaretto Creek ramp, officer Hughes noticed a vessel that belonged to Martino Nguyen taking out on the ramp. Hughes and another officer had just checked Nguyen 10 days prior and found him to be in possession of four shark fins. Officers Britt and Miller soon joined the officers at the Lazaretto Creek boat ramp.
Once Britt and Miller arrived at the Lazaretto Creek ramp, the game wardens were advised of the actions the previous week regarding the four shark fins. All game wardens and NOAA officer Hughes boarded the boat, and Hughes talked with Nguyen about his fishing trip. There was a cooler in the boat that had some fish in it that Hughes went through. While Hughes was checking the fish in the cooler, Britt put his hand on a towel on the livewell in the back of the boat and felt something odd.
As Britt moved the towel, he noticed a shark fin, and then he unwrapped the towel and found 20 shark fins. When the concealed shark fins were found, the wardens proceeded to check all the compartments in the vessel for any other illegal catch.
Nguyen was standing behind the steering wheel of the vessel on a floor compartment, and Miller asked him if there was anything in the compartment. Nguyen moved and opened the compartment and tried to push a sack farther in the compartment. Miller told Nguyen to move, and she retrieved the sack in the compartment and it contained 26 undersized black seabass.
Once the boat was searched thoroughly, Hughes advised Nguyen that he would receive a NOVA (Notice of Violation Assessment) for no HMS (Highly Migratory Species) Permit, over the limit of black seabass, and undersized black seabass. In late 2018 a civil settlement was reached for both incidents involving the shark fins and other violations. The original fine amount was for $15,000, and a settlement was reached for $13,900, in which Nguyen paid.
Cpl. David Fisher Earns 2020 Rocky Wainwright Waterfowl Award
Cpl. David Fisher, who is assigned to Houston County, was selected to receive the 2020 Rocky Wainwright Waterfowl Award. This annual award recognizes the individual Georgia law enforcement ranger “who selflessly gives an extraordinary effort to waterfowl enforcement and inspires other game wardens to perform at their best.”
“This was exemplified in Cpl. David Fisher’s 2019-2020 waterfowl season,” a DNR release said. “He displayed drive, teamwork and public outreach that embodies what the Rocky Wainwright Waterfowl Award stands for. His knowledge and passion for duck hunting has also carried over to his career as a Game Warden.”
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