3 cited for operating illegal charter boats

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:03 PM

During a recent patrol on Lake Michigan off Whitehall, a conservation officer recognized a trolling vessel carrying passengers that had failed to meet scheduled charter inspection dates and had failed to submit annual catch reports for 2012. The passengers said they were paying clients aboard what they thought was a legal charter.

On July 13, officers caught up with a suspect operating a river jet boat on the Muskegon River, downstream from M-37, who they had sought for two years. The vessel was seized. Authorities are currently seeking the operator who failed to appear on this charge and several other outstanding warrants by other agencies.

Another investigation began when a conservation officer noted a fishing charter ad placed on Craig’s List that appeared suspicious. A covert investigation was initiated by the Wildlife Resources Protection Unit leading to a person being arrested for taking passengers for hire without a Coast Guard license aboard an uninspected boat in Lake Michigan off Muskegon. The operator admitted that he was aware of the requirements, but had not taken steps to comply with the law.

All three cases have pending court dates.

Penalties for violations of Michigan’s charter boat laws can be punishable by fines up to $1,000 and jail terms up to one year. Authorities may also seize a vessel used illegally.

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