Written by Adrianne Madden
Thursday, 02 April 2009
I think my dictionary is broken. Its definition of the word "harass" seems different from that of federal officials.
According to my well-worn copy of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition, the definition of the verb "harass" reads as follows:
"1 a: EXHAUST, FATIGUE b: to annoy persistently 2: to worry and impede by repeated raids"
But apparently the word has an additional meaning because a Cape Cod fisherman who last summer freed a humpback whale that was caught up in his fishing gear faces charges of harassing whales.
Robert J. Eldridge of West Chatham, Mass., faces a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine, a year in jail and a year on probation if he's convicted of the criminal misdemeanor. Yesterday he pleaded innocent on three charges of violations of the federal Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The Hyannis, Mass.-based Cape Cod Times reports http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090402/NEWS/904020314/-1/NEWS06 that Eldridge and his crew worked for 20 to 30 minutes to free the whale, which reportedly swam away unharmed. Eldridge later cooperated with a NOAA investigator, describing how the incident unfolded. The U.S. Attorneys office subsequently determined charges should be brought.
Perhaps, in this litigious age, federal officials are acting cautiously and to the letter of the law, especially where a protected species is concerned. Hence, a fisherman who tried to do the right thing faces a big fine and jail time for his trouble.
It'll be interesting to see how the case plays out in court. We'll keep the folks at Merriam Webster posted.
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.Read more...