Michigan man found with 1,400 illegal fish in his freezer

Local

Conservation Officers Joshua Wright (left) and Mark Papineau confiscated more than 1,400 illegal panfish from a Gladwin, Michigan, man. Papineau had received several tips about a man suspected of poaching larger numbers of fish from Lake Lancer, located in Gladwin County.

GLADWIN, MI (WJMN) – Multiple tips about over fishing called into the Michigan Department of Natural Resources led officers to investigate a Gladwin County man. On the morning of August 14, 2019, Conservation Officers Mark Papineau and Joshua Wright conducted a marine patrol on Lake Lancer.

During their investigation, officers found a boat and truck matching the description from their tips. They made contact with the owner who had 13 panfish in his possession. he was within the daily limit of 25. Officers checked later that morning and the boat was gone.

“I’m not over the limit.”

Later the same day, when officers Papineau and Wright returned to the same location, they noticed the man’s vehicle and boat trailer. After waiting an hour, the man returned to the dock. Officers say when the man spotted them, he immediately yelled, “I’m not over the limit.” Officers found he had 24 panfish with him. He admitted this was in addition to the 13 he had caught earlier in the day, which was over the daily limit.

Officers then followed the man back to his home to collect the illegally caught fish. The man consented to letting them search his chest freezers in their garage. They found the 13 fish from earlier in the day, plus an additional six he had not reported. Officers then discovered 70 bags full of filleted panfish, totaling more than 1,400.

The fish were confiscated and the man was issued a ticket. Once the fish are no longer needed as evidence, they will be donated to a food bank or church.

Following up on a comment about this story on Facebook, we asked the DNR why all of the fish were confiscated. Brandon Kieft, District Law Officer with the Michigan DNR responded to help explain the law.

Kieft said, “The best way to describe it is that a person can only have their daily possession limit plus 2 additional days possession limit.  Those additional 2 days limit must be processed in a certain manner by law.  In this gentleman’s case, the panfish daily limit is 25.  Therefore, he could only have a total of 75 fish in his possession.”

Below is the section of law Kieft is referring to.

324.48721 Possession limits of fish.

Sec. 48721. (1) The commission shall issue an order under part 411 establishing possession limits of fish consistent with this section. An individual shall not possess more than the daily possession limit or aggregate daily possession limit, as applicable, of fish at the place where the fish were taken or in route from that place to either of the following:

(a) His or her automobile or other principal means of land transportation.

(b) His or her residence or temporary place of lodging.

(2) In addition to 1 day’s possession limit of fish, an individual may possess an additional 2 days’ possession limit of fish that are processed by any of the following methods:

(a) Canning in a sealed container.

(b) Curing by smoking or drying.

(c) Freezing in a solid state.

(3) An individual’s processed fish aboard a vessel, on the water or at dockside, are considered to be in the individual’s possession for the purposes of subsection (2).

(4) An individual shall not possess a fish illegally taken.

If you witness poaching, click here to learn how to report it.

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