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August 31, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Park Slope / Meadows of Shame

Something is fishy! Not a single ticket for errant anglers in Prospect Park

The Brooklyn Paper

Something smells fishy in Prospect Park — and it’s a renegade angler taking advantage of the Parks Department’s failure to issue a single fishing-related summons last year.

Shelley Hendlin, a vigilant parkgoer walking along the lake early last Sunday, came upon a man reeling in a fish and stashing it in a bag in blatant defiance of the “catch and release” law in city parks.

Hendlin and her two friends daringly confronted the man and insisted he stop, demanding he empty the contents of the bag into the lake.

That’s when they realized this was no fisherman — this was a man on a freshwater killing spree.

“I insisted he throw the fish back — he emptied the bag and there were around 45 dead fish inside!” said Hendlin. “That’s when I said, ‘You better get out of the park right now,’ and he left.”

Hendlin did not get the man’s name, but speculated that he was gathering the fish for a feast.

“I would think he eats them,” said Hendlin. “He could probably freeze them for later.”

A spokesman for the park, Eugene Patron said he was aware of the man who allegedly fishes by his own rules.

“People caught keeping the fish can receive a summons,” said Patron. “Also, anyone over the age of 16 is supposed to have a state fishing license, so … they can also face fines from the state.”

The fishermen could receive a summons, but they never do. Statistics from Parks Enforcement Patrol show that no fishing summonses have been written this year.

And this is not the first example of a lack of enforcement in the park. Just last week, it was revealed that Park code officers have not written a single littering ticket in the last 20 months, despite a media backlash against filth in the park.

Patron said it was unlikely that many other fishermen in the park — generally a laid back, nature-loving bunch — shared this man’s bloodlust.

“I’ve seen people online complain about fishermen keeping their catch, but I can’t speak to the scale of the problem,” Patron said, adding, “There doesn’t seem to be any indication that the number of fish in the park has declined.”

Parkgoers have been reeling with concern about reckless fishermen recently, what with increasing frequent discoveries of waterfowl with hooks or fishing line through their beaks.

“We’ve found thousands of feet of fishing line in the park in the last year,” said Ed Bahlman, who, along with his partner, Anne-Katrin Titze, scours the park daily for signs of trouble.

Bahlman added that they had also come across at least 50 barbed hooks around the lake, which are prohibited.

It was only three months ago that Bahlman and Titze discovered an apparent turtle trap — raising fears that the shelled creatures were not safe, either.

Hendlin said she was personally opposed to fishing in the park, but that it was more important that fishermen obey the rules.

“What’s the point if the laws are not being enforced?” Hendlin said. “There should be enforced rules, or ban fishing altogether.”

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Bob from Park Slope says:
Maybe it's about time that PEP (Parks Enforcement Police) was rolled over into the real Police Department; much like they did with the subway cops years ago. PEP's main job appears to be that of glorified "ushers" during park events.

Enough already!
Aug. 31, 2010, 9:30 am
John from Park Slope says:
Thank you for exposing this crime against Prospect Park. The matter of fact response from the Alliance spokesperson, is even more troubling than the look on the hapless fisherman's face.
Aug. 31, 2010, 11:23 am
Carl from Windsor Terrace says:
The Prospect Park Alliance is:

A- Clueless
B- Arrogant
C- Complicit
D- All of the Above
Aug. 31, 2010, 12:18 pm
Caroline from Park Slope says:
E - All of the Above and More
Aug. 31, 2010, 12:35 pm
Rina Deych, RN from Boro Park says:
Thank you for publishing this story.

After a mother swan (months ago) was entangled in line that strangled her baby and she was found dragging the lifeless body of her baby around until someone could finally cut her loose, and countless waterfowl have been impaled on illegal barbed fishing hooks and entangled in fishing line, it's clear that people are not fishing responsibly.

I have personally cut a birds free from entanglements in fishing line around the Peninsula. FIDO has been considerate enough to place receptacles for discarded line and hooks around the lake, but virtually NO ONE is using them. Catch and release fishing is gruesome enough, injuring and killing many fish per year.

This latest crime, in which a man caught and killed 43 fish, needs to be investigated. This man should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There's zero enforcement of the fishing and picnicking rules, yet rangers magically appear to ticket someone whose dog is off leash a minute after 9 AM.

Fishing and wildlife in a public park do not mix. There are many other ways to get close to and appreciate nature without hurting anyone: pick up a camera, sketchbook, or a guitar. Park-goers come to marvel at the wildlife, not the fishermen. Fishing needs to be banned in Prospect Park, period.

Rina Deych, RN / Wildlife Rehabilitator
Aug. 31, 2010, 3:02 pm
Rina Deych, RN from Boro Park says:
Photograph of one fisherman from August 22nd:

http://www.facebook.com/rinadeych#!/photo.php?pid=6457324&o=all&op=1&view=all&subj=10150099384115385&id=507833688
Aug. 31, 2010, 8:26 pm
paul from brooklyn says:
my buddies and i fish Prospect Park religiously and we strictly practise catch and release. hooks are debarbed and no fishing lines are left alone.
Anglers should educate themselves and not let a few bad apples destroy such a place!
Aug. 31, 2010, 9:04 pm
paul from brooklyn says:
this is a link to a group we formed for Prospect Park Fisherman. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=100268200021825&ref=ts you. we promote ethical fishing.
Aug. 31, 2010, 9:08 pm
Rina Deych from Boro Park says:
With all due respect, what is ethical about impaling an animal on a hook, flinging them up by their injury, depriving them of their oxygen (water), ripping out the hook (sometimes with tissue or organs with it, since fish suck in the bait with hook attached), then throwing them back into the water, where many will just flop over, and swim sideways before they die from internal injuries and shock (all this has been described to me by multiple ex-fishing enthusiasts).

So, catch and release is a farce: painfully catch with hook through the fish's tissue, then releasing the animal injured to suffer in pain and often die.

Thanks for sharing your facebook page, Paul. I checked it out. I don't see any mention of "ethical" fishing or what people should do to abide by the rules. Also, I see people holding up fish (out of the water), where they can't breathe and are suffering, so that people can take pictures and show off their catches. Nothing ethical about that, Jack.

Aside from this, only 6 members are listed, so even if all of them practiced what you call "ethical" fishing, what about the hundreds, maybe thousands of others throughout the year who DON'T, and are not monitored or ticketed?

Also, I notice your group calls it a "sport." It's not a sport unless both teams have an equal chance to win.
The fish is just taking the bait to SURVIVE. It can't defend itself against creatures many times its size.

I have never understood people who think they "appreciate" nature by torturing it.

You seem like a bunch of decent guys, otherwise. Why not pick up a hobby that doesn't hurt anyone?
Sept. 1, 2010, 6:45 am
T.R. from Brooklyn says:
Actually sportsmen and women (who obey the laws) are 'true conservationists'.

They pay for the majority of 'conservation funding'in New York State and the rest of the United States. This funding comes from hunting and fishing license sales, waterfowl stamps, as well as the 'Pittman Robertson' tax on sporting goods involved with hunting and fishing.

Sportsmen don't ask hikers/bikers/birdwatchers not to enjoy the outdoors, and likewise, the sportsmen deserve to be left alone to fish and enjoy the outdoors (in a legal manner) as well.
Sept. 1, 2010, 9:57 am
LuLu from PLG says:
Great article. Even if the parks department started enforcing their laws now and again, people might get the message it's not OK to throw their garbage, fishing hooks and lines, and whatever else into the public space. It seems obvious to me, but people get lazy and careless.
Sept. 1, 2010, 12:31 pm
Rina Deych, RN from Boro Park says:
T.R. (big bad hunter who is so courageous, he can't even post his name), please don't insult our collective intelligence. The myth of conservation is a hollow argument hunters like to invoke to attempt to justify their senseless cruelty. Please read: http://www.peta2.com/TAKECHARGE/t_factsheet_hunting.asp

Rina
Sept. 1, 2010, 8:24 pm
Giulio from Bensonhurst says:
A true Sportsmens code is to obey the rules and love nature...I fish the park often and I always act the consevationist...If there is garbage on the ground or in the water I will pick it up and properly dispose of it...Prospect park like any other NY City Park is for the enjoyment of people..The creators of the Prospect Park wanted to create a place that one could go to and relax after a days work...every type of activity that takes place in Prospect Park from bike riding to running to sunbathing to fishing etc comes under those wishes....True fishermen follow the rules and love their surroundings...A few days ago as I was leaving the park I noticed what was a Black Crappie on top or the water..Upon inspecting I saw that the fish was inside of a discarded plastic bag..I retreived the bag and ended up releasing it to survive...There will always be someone that will be against some for of relaxation whether its NO Fishing or Dont Walk on the Grass or what about Kill The Geese that should NEVER OF BEEN DONE...but hey I guess Airplanes rule over birds that dont even fly away from their home in the park...Go look at the Facebook site that was established for prospect park Fishing...It is for pure Sports and pleasure..All catch and release people and yes TRUE CONSEVATIONISTS.... Now as for taking pictures and holding up fish...One is allowed to do that when you catch a fish in NYC Parks...Releasing a fish back into the water is not meant to be thrown in...Fishing may not be for everyone like some sports may not be for all...Ya cant please everyone but Rules should be followed..What about the Bicycle riders that speed down the hills and dont abide by the traffic lights that are in the park and a family or senior citizen has to put their life at risk by crossing to go and Enjoy what Prospect park was intended for? No one has an answer for that....
Sept. 1, 2010, 10:39 pm
David from Windsor Terrace says:
The Prospect Park Alliance is supposed to make sure our park is safe for all the wildlife. Take a good look at the lake everyone. It's a disgrace the way it has been neglected. Fishermen have complained and requested more enforcement and care, to no avail.
The lake is full of debris and the Alliance knows it.
Sept. 2, 2010, 9:34 am
Carl from Kensington says:
Tupper Thomas, send out your staff to curtail this barbaric practice that goes unchallenged under your watch!
For once, show the public you care by taking aggressive steps to nab those who treat the lake's inhabitants with no respect.
Sept. 2, 2010, 9:52 am
Joan from Windsor Terrace says:
Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.
I am sure if someone broke into Tupper Thomas' house and destroyed her property, she would contact enforcement, and expect results.
We do not want a person who does not go after those who are destroying the park in a position of power.
Get out of the way and let someone who cares take over.
Sept. 2, 2010, 10:26 am
Jennifer from Park Slope says:
The Urban Park Rangers are suppose to be out at the lake preventing harm to wildlife. When a pattern of assaults on animals occurs it is time to rearrange your priorities. Start enforcing and stop avoiding responsibility. You are never seen stopping illegal actions in the park.
Sept. 2, 2010, 10:44 am
Thomas from Park Slope says:
Do not under overlook the harm of having no enforcement of the rules in Prospect Park. The Alliance, for even the casual visitor, comes across as being unable to recognize what is and what is not getting done.
There is an imbalance so obvious, that priorities must be changed immediately.
This is unacceptable. The lack of day-to-day care is appalling and there appears to be no long term understanding on how to deal with the years of neglect.
Sept. 2, 2010, 10:57 am
Rina Deych, RN from Boro Park says:
Giulio, you mention enjoyment, relaxation, and sport. It's not ANY of those things to the fish. Are you going to tell me that fishing is the ONLY thing you know how to do for relaxation? What an anthropocentric attitude, as if animals just exists for us to whatever we want to, as long as it's for OUR enjoyment, entertainment, appetite or "relaxation."

Shame on us, as a species, that we do not know how to truly respect the planet and all its inhabitants.
Sept. 2, 2010, 7:41 pm
Jim from Windsor Terrace says:
The scale of the problem is widespread.
Ask any responsible licensed fisherman, we know more than those who are paid to protect the park's environment.
This is a classic case of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Sept. 3, 2010, 9:27 am
Ron W. from Prospect Heights says:
We keep hearing Alliance spokespeople spinning a concern, if not a crime, into something else.
They are trying to make a silk's purse out of a sow's ear.
We do not want this going on in Prospect Park.
Sept. 3, 2010, 10:13 am
Nick from Park Slope says:
It is clear that codelaw enforcement is not being enforced. Thus it is time to fire the people in charge, and hire the people that can get the job done, like enforce the laws. This fisherman is clearly not a sportsman, he should have been caught very fast. I have seen bad hunters, bad fisherman being caught in our national parks where law enforcement have hundred if not thousands of miles to control. How many miles is our park? This is just pure mismanagment PERIOD.
Sept. 3, 2010, 2:23 pm
Craig from Prospect Heights says:
It is not about survival of the fittest in Prospect Park Tupper Thomas.

Responsible fishermen should be outraged when they see this kind of unlawful behavior taking place.
Everyone, including those being paid, have a responsibility to safeguard our wildlife.
Sept. 4, 2010, 9:17 am
Walter from Park Slope says:
Keep ignoring the obvious - this is how Prospect Park has declined. We who come to the park have seen the steady decay in care. It has reached an almost unspeakable level. There are no reasons believable coming from park officials.
Excuses are always the first response.
Sept. 7, 2010, 9:30 am
Kim from Windsor Terrace says:
There is no enforcement and it seems to be by design. A word of advice to the Prospect Park Alliance president Tupper Thomas, that ship has sailed.
You need to take responsibility for the lackluster performance from those who are in charge.
Sept. 7, 2010, 10:07 am
Robert from Park Slope says:
Prospect Park Lake is calling out for help and Tupper, you are not listening.
Please be more aware and follow the Alliance's mandate to protect the wildlife.
You have lost sight and must redefine your priorities.
Sept. 7, 2010, 10:25 am
Roger from Kensington says:
We need enforcement lakeside. I no longer enjoy the only lake in Brooklyn. It is filthy and has been disregarded by everyone who should be responsible for its care.
Sept. 7, 2010, 10:41 am
Ken from Windsor Terrace says:
The Prospect Park Alliance treats park-goers as fools. This is a city park, not their private estate .
You have a responsibility to demand more money from those holding the purse strings.
Putting on a smiley face and not responding is unacceptable. The status quo by you has led us to this failure.
Sept. 8, 2010, 9:49 am
Paul from Park Slope says:
The Prospect Park Alliance has no credibility when it comes to our wildlife.

The abuses permitted inside the park and the looks the other way, are examples of institutionalized animal cruelty.

We do not want people running a NYC park that are unable to coexist with nature and protect its habitat.
Sept. 11, 2010, 8:18 am
Kevin/Joyce from Windsor Terrace says:
To have no respect for Prospect Park's environment is unforgivable. That goes for the person who poached and killed the fish, as well as the Prospect Park Alliance's inability to formulate a plan to stop even one person from this activity.
Shame on you. This is not a fisherman, this is a butcher collecting contaminated fish for a commercial purpose to be vended to unsuspecting people.
It must be stopped.
Sept. 11, 2010, 9:15 am
Michele from Kensington says:
Shame on Tupper Thomas again and again. Let's let the city know we want an intelligent, educated, nature-loving park administrator NOT an arrogant, incompetent good-for-nothing!
Sept. 12, 2010, 3:23 pm
Ibis Baez from Parkside says:
Ok first of, they shouldn't be blaming the entire fishing crew (me being one of the members), what they have to do is ask all the fisherman they see for a fishing licenses because 99% of the time the people taking the fish in the lake at prospect park do not have there licence.
Dec. 15, 2010, 7:33 pm
Rina Deych, RN from Boro Park says:
" Now, months later, we ran into the perpetrator again. Here is a short video where we remind him that the policy is "catch and release" in Prospect Park.
We even alerted the other fishermen to look out for this guy.
http://www.youtube.com/user/rrrina?feature=mhum#p/u/12/MK9mbbdiQsQ "
April 16, 2011, 11:07 am

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