Fun & Games

Trivia Games


Contact Us




John's Journal... Entry 251, Day 1


What Is AMRED?

Editor's Note: As you know, salt-water fishing has a numberof size limits, bag limits and restrictions. But do you know who enforces these laws? Who keeps the commercial fishermen, the netters, the oystermen and the recreational fishermen from breaking the law, taking too many fish and/or fishing in closed areas? In my home state of Alabama and many other states, the Enforcement Division of the Marine Resources Department of the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has this responsibility. To learn more about who the fish cops are, what they do, and why they are important to all of us, I went on patrol with them in coastal areas recently at night and during the day. I learned that they have some of the most-sophisticated surveillance equipment of any law enforcement agency. Besides radar, they have night-vision binoculars and other devices to spot and track law violators. They also do drug enforcement, health-department enforcement and immigration enforcement and are cross-trained with many state and federal agents. This week we'll meet Alabama's fish cops, the Alabama Marine Resources Enforcement Division (AMRED), and learn what they do.

PHILLIPS: Today we're talking to Captain Chris Blankenship with AMRED. What does the Enforcement Division of Alabama's Marine Resources (AMRED) do?
BLANKENSHIP: We check all the salt-water, commercial and recreational sizes and limits of the fish being caught. We enforce oystering laws, gill-netting laws and shrimping laws, and we check the seafood shops and fish houses to make sure that no illegal fish are being bought and sold. We are also the enforcement arm for the Alabama Department of Public Health. We help prevent contaminated and adulterated oysters and other seafood from coming to the market.

PHILLIPS: How far does your enforcement limit extend?
BLANKENSHIP: State waters go out to 3 miles. We are also deputized by the National Marine Fishery Service to enforce the law out to 200 miles off the American Coast. With that enforcement responsibility from the National Marine Fishery Service, we can go anywhere in the open Gulf of Mexico and check for violations. We patrol consistently out to 70 or 80 miles offshore. We are also cross-designated as customs officers and deputized by the U.S. Customs Service to board ships and look for customs violations. Because we are also state police officers, we have the authority and the responsibility to search for illegal drugs anytime we stop a boat to check for any violations.

PHILLIPS: So, in other words, you are super cops not just fish cops. I went on a night patrol with the AMRED and met Enforcement Officer George Pose. Officer Pose, tell me about the binoculars you are using.
POSE: These are Fujinon Techno Image Stabilizing Binoculars. These binoculars are electronic image-stabilizing binoculars. Some nights when we are on patrol, the weather gets a little rough, but with these binoculars we can focus on a boat and the image won't bounce around as it will with regular binoculars. These binoculars help us to better observe boater and fishing activities at night.

PHILLIPS: You also have night vision, like the Special Forces use. When do you use your night-vision equipment?
POSE: Mainly when we are patrolling offshore at night. When we are patrolling inshore, there is usually enough ambient light for us to be able to see.

PHILLIPS: What do you usually look for when are patrolling at night?
POSE: People netting fish in the illegal areas. It is illegal to set a gill net in any river, stream or canal in Alabama. There are certain areas that are open for gill netting and other areas that are closed. We have to make sure that the netters only put out their nets in the open areas. We have both recreational and commercial gill netting in Alabama, and we have very strict laws as to what the netters can do. For instance, they cannot leave the gill net set out without their being there to watch it. Another violation that we often find is a poacher running another fisherman's crab traps at night. We also look for shrimpers who may be shrimping in closed areas at night. Late in the afternoon, and sometimes at night, we check the charter boats and the private boats that are coming into Perdido Pass after a day of fishing.

PHILLIPS: What do you check the charter boats for?
POSE: We check to make sure they don't have over the limit of any salt-water fish and that all their fish are the legal- length limits.

PHILLIPS: What else are you checking for at night?
POSE: Anytime we do a boat check, we also do a boaters' safety check to make sure they have the proper personal flotation devices. We check to make sure they have kill switches on their motors. We make sure they have a Vessel Operator's permit. We make sure that their registration is current, and that all their lights are working.




Check back each day this week for more about FISH COPS: THE WATCHDOG OF THE MARINE RESOURCES ...

Day 1 - What Is AMRED?
Day 2 - Check For Drugs
Day 3 - Reef Violations
Day 4 - Lady Fish Cops
Day 5 - Heidi Lofton, The Other Lady Cop

John's Journal