Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Game Warden Files--Staten Island, part 4

By nature, I gather, process and store information in a unique way.  Occasionally, all of that information will gel into something good and I will have one of those "AHAH!" moments.  Such was the case one day when Lt. Jay Molinelli stopped by the house.  It was early, I'd not yet gone to work because a plan was forming in my mind, and as we sat sipping coffee he asked just what I had in mind for the day.  I told him that I thought it was the day that I'd be able to catch a certain outlaw--we'll call him "Jack"--who often gill-netted in Jamaica Bay. Nets longer than 40 feet were prohibited in the bay, and the normal gill nets were several hundred feet in length.  Even though it was no longer my sector, I had the small boat and knowledge of the bay that would make it possible to make the case.  After listening to my rationale about why it was the right night (phase of moon, tide cycle, what fish were in the local waters...) he told me to put the operation together using whatever resources I needed.  He also told me to keep him posted on what was happening.
We assembled a crew to watch the shoreline, I got another boat operator to join me in the boat and we got ourselves into position about dark.  We did not have to wait long.  Jack left the creek with a boatload of nets and headed out into the bay.  We had enough watchers posted around the bay to be sure that he didn't leave for the open ocean, and if memory serves me correctly we had the Coast Guard cutter at Station Rockaway power up radar to watch also.  My partner and I also made a tour around the bay, catching sight of him a couple times.
The boat came back to dock with no nets in a couple hours, so we knew we had him.  Some hours later, Jack again left the dock to haul his nets and we were ready and waiting when he came back loaded with fish just as the sun was starting to come up. We made an approach to the boat while it was still in the canal and had the rest of our team meet us on on shore to help off-load the illegal catch, transferring it all to our boat. Jack offered all kinds of protests as to his innocence; we shot all of them down pretty easily as we'd had the entire bay covered for the entire time. We got the good LT out of bed and told him what we had.  He offered Jack an administrative settlement, to which he agreed; we left the nets, took the fish and headed out of the canal.
Jack payed his agreed penalty later that day.  We pointed the boat back toward Staten Island and we called it a day.  It had been a very productive day.

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