#15 Story
Town Says Pound Net Would ‘Eliminate’ Fun Pier Fishing

Cherrystone Campground Also Affected


June 23, 2014

The Town of Cape Charles has reacted strongly to applications to place pound nets in the Bay near the Town Fun Pier and near Cherrystone Campground. The pound nets “would directly eliminate the supply of fish” to the Cape Charles Fun Pier and to the Cherrystone piers, according to a letter to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission signed by Mayor Dora Sullivan.

The letter names four reasons why the pound net application should be denied:

– Recreational Fishing: Thousands of people visit the Fun Pier annually, and the pound net would “eliminate” the supply of fish to the pier.

— Environment: The pound net would likely use old telephone poles treated with creosote. “We don’t understand why this is allowed,” the letter states.

— Safety and Health: A fishing vessel next to the Federal Channel could hinder safe navigation, and seagulls attracted to the catch could hinder operations at Bayshore Concrete Products.

— Tourism: Issues cited above, as well as additional flies, “could cause the harbor and beach areas to become undesirable to the point that our visitors may not return.”

The letter also complains that the VMRC did not notify the Town of the application. By the time the Town found out, the 30-day comment period had ended.

Applications for pound nets require an advertisement in a local newspaper, followed by a 30-day period for public comment. The advertisement apparently was not noticed by town officials, and no other notice was received.


On May 8, Edward H. Bender of Cheriton applied for a license to locate a pound net 75 feet northeast of Cape Charles City Range B Front Light 8. The application requires notice to be mailed to all property owners within 500 feet of the proposed net. The description of the location indicates that the only property owner within 500 feet is Bayshore Concrete Products.

Bender has also applied to site a 925-foot pound net southeast of Cherrystone Channel Light 2C. The town letter states that “although this net has more impact to our neighbors, Cherrystone Camping and RV Resort, it will have a lot of the same effects to Kings Creek as the other net has to the Town Harbor. Cherrystone Camping and RV Resort has three fishing piers available for their customers and placement of this net would also eliminate the supply of fish to Cherrystone’s piers.”

The town is asking VMRC to deny both permit applications. “In the future, please consider notification to the affected localities regarding permits that would directly impact the localities, their residents and visitors,” the letter concludes.

The letter was copied to Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, State Sen. Lynwood Lewis, and Delegate Robert Bloxom.

CLICK for town letter to VMRC.



27 Responses to “#15 Story
Town Says Pound Net Would ‘Eliminate’ Fun Pier Fishing”

  1. Joseph Corcoran on June 23rd, 2014 6:10 am

    JUST SAY NO TO POUND NETS! They are a hazard to boating people as well as ugly, stinky, and an insult to the environment.

  2. Wayne Creed on June 23rd, 2014 9:32 am

    Pound net fishing in the Chesapeake is the oldest form of netting(commercial fishing for that matter), and is an integral part of our waterman’s history and tradition. For a town planning a waterman’s memorial, they should be keenly aware of this. There is always a lot of misinformation surrounding pound netting, especially in regards to the incidental by-catch of other animals such as migratory sea turtles. The important thing to note is that pound netting is considered passive gear (different from purse seine fishing) because fish are led into it, they are caught alive, and you can throw back what you don’t need. I’m not sure what the requirements are now in VA and Maryland, but in Avon and Wanchese North Carolina, they require a 5 1/2-inch mesh escape panel (1 foot in the western Albemarle Sound). Research by the National Marine Fisheries Service, in and around the Pamlico and Albemarle sound have found that modern pound net designs significantly reduce the incidental interactions and by-catches of sea turtles (designs consisting of replacing the top two thirds of the traditional mesh panel leader with vertical ropes spaced 61 cm apart has proven very effective).

    The question is whether Cape Charles is more concerned about a Fun Pier(the name sums it all up) as well as the feelings of a bunch of intellectually and navigationally challenged recreational boaters, or whether we want to keep our waterman working, able to provide for their families. Their abuse and handling of the Old School exposed their real, greasy priorities. The elimination of white boots seems to be next on their hit list.

  3. David Gay on June 23rd, 2014 9:38 am

    Pound nets are a hazard to navigation and should not be allowed near any channels on the bay. There is no requirement to remove them when a lease expires so the hazard remains for someone else to clean up the mess. The towns got it right on this one folks.

  4. Steve Downs on June 23rd, 2014 1:17 pm

    All well and good that watermen be able to work the waters and maintain their livelihoods, but does it have to be in such close proximity to the properties mentioned? Aren’t there enough areas where they can practice their trade without interfering with recreational areas? I think so. And please, no need for snarky remarks about the old school when addressing this issue.

  5. Wayne Creed on June 23rd, 2014 1:59 pm

    Pound nets were introduced on the Chesapeake around 1858 (derivative of Native American fish traps). Currently, Maryland lists over 1,129 active pound nets, many in in high traffic channels, high tourist areas such as St. Michaels, Cambridge, Shady Side, Solomans, Deahl, and Chesapeake Beach. Folks have been navigating these nets for many years, yet if that still poses a problem, I would suggest contacting the Coast Guard Auxillary or a local Power Squadron and take the basic boating and piloting courses. If you still have trouble, it may be time to sell the boat and buy a golf cart. The case of Michael D. WILLS and Todd Solomon v. VIRGINIA MARINE RESOURCES COMMISSION, Record No. 2638–09–1, decided: December 6, 2011, is very similar to the Town’s complaint. The courts found the case against pound nets stupid and lacking any factual relevence, throwing it out.

    But really, what has happened to us? Is turning Cape Charles into Cape May, lightly prancing about with the smells of potpouri and scented candles wafting through the air, really that important? It seems our priority, our heritage would put a precedent on keeping fishermen working, rather than fretting about the desperate angst of the Coney Island whitefish that come here in search of a tan. Don’t worry, Coastal Living won’t put any pictures of washed up fish in the article (not part of their design aesthetic), so they’ll keep coming anyway. Don’t worry. Take my word for it.

  6. Hampton Miller on June 23rd, 2014 2:03 pm

    Why did our town officials “not notice” this? Isn’t this an issue they should be thoroughly knowledgeable about and the reason they are elected?

  7. Don & Deborah Bender on June 23rd, 2014 2:42 pm

    FYI: The VMRC would not have approved the sites if they were too near the channel. Point 2: The town should have no say in this matter because they are not within 500 feet of the trap. Point 3: Neither of these traps will be using old telephone poles. Point 4: These traps will not bother the fun pier at all. Pretty much the only times these traps even catch are during thunderstorms and during a big wind. Point 5: The town calling this a working harbor is a JOKE. They are determined to drag in the tourists to grease their dirty little pockets. At one time there were fish traps right off the beach front and even closer to the harbor and not a single soul complained. Only NOW that the town is being run by this bunch of tourists and people that have no idea how a fish trap even works are there problems.
    As far as it being a navigation hazard — if you don’t know how to get around a fish trap, SELL YOUR BOAT NOW and keep riding your golf cart. Case Closed!

    As a point of interest, the above comment was published at the same time as the earlier comment by Mr. Creed. Neither writer was aware of the other writer’s recommendation to sell one’s boat in favor of a golf cart. -EDITOR

  8. Cary Gibson on June 23rd, 2014 3:19 pm

    So Cape Charles has joined the chorus in objection to pound nets. We at Smith Beach fought one 2 years ago and have another proposal now from the same person. Pound net licenses are for life with no control as to how many, placement and maintenance of the nets, plus no lights, which is a hazard to navigation. They are non-discriminatory and trap many game fish / turtles / dolphins. We have about 5 in a quarter mile span. If you ever wonder about an additional determinant to the lack of fish check out the following: http://www.mondovacilando.com/something-fishy-in-reedville-va/

    Watermen are a tradition and so was slavery; it is time to take control of the Bay because one of the main objectives for pound nets is menhaden, a main diet for other fish.

  9. Wayne Creed on June 23rd, 2014 7:36 pm

    As was mentioned earlier, lots of misinformation about pound netting; let’s try not to confuse it with gill netting, long lining, or industrial purse seine fishing. Actually, pound netting is probably the best, most humane way to catch bunker (menhaden). Now this video shows menhaden caught with a pound net: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4UVCNAFu8Y. Next, this video shows Omega Protein, using spotter planes, and more importantly, industrial purse seine shipping technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSP_6BI7p14. Even in Smith Beach, you should be able to detect a bit of a difference. And even Smith Beach folks should know that if dolphins interact with a pound net, they are usually going for a free lunch inside the head, and in most cases, the net comes out with the short end. The slavery analogy is interesting, you know, white boots, white hoods, but what do I know — it might be better to come down to the docks and talk to some of the watermen down here about it.

  10. Kenneth Carlton on June 24th, 2014 8:55 am

    Pier fisherman my entire life. Wouldn’t want to adversely affect someone’s ability to make a living but the nets do hurt fishing at piers.

  11. Cary Gibson on June 24th, 2014 4:56 pm

    Mr. Wayne Creed said, “And even Smith Beach folks should know that if dolphins interact with a pound net, they are usually going for a free lunch inside the head, and in most cases, the net comes out with the short end.” Man against Dolphins and I know who will win and also get a free lunch off nature!

  12. Deborah Bender on June 24th, 2014 6:05 pm

    Cary — Are you aware that everything inside of the pound net is alive until the nets are fished? You do know, I assume, that the VMRC is always at the dock inspecting the catch when it comes in. These men would get into big trouble if they were to bring in any illegal fish. And FYI each pound net has to have its own license. You don’t get 1 license and put in all the traps that you want. These nets will not affect the people fishing on the pier or at Cherrystone. These are the most humane kind of nets.

  13. Michael Mullner on June 24th, 2014 8:58 pm

    I’m gonna drive my boat around the net not into it.

  14. Charles Demarino on June 24th, 2014 11:14 pm

    It’s crazy to see the uneducated speak about subjects they know nothing about. Whoever speaks bad about a fishtrap should at least go and see how it really is. And comparing watermen to slavery is [. . .]

  15. Dana Lascu on June 25th, 2014 12:03 am

    With all these regulations and objections, the only fish that will be on your plates in the foreseeable future will be from China or another middle- or low-income country. Already much of the seafood on the market comes from half-way around the world. If you want fresh and local, support it.

  16. Allison Mills Duncan on June 25th, 2014 5:41 pm

    When I was growing up there were fish pounds at Pickett’s Harbor. Never heard of any adverse effects from them. That was when the public could use the beach there.

  17. Jack (Buster Crabbe) Willis on June 26th, 2014 7:23 am

    Was not too long ago pound nets were right off Cape Charles beach — 1970s or maybe even in the 1980s. Never heard of any complaints then. Makes one wonder why now.

  18. Jill Combs on June 28th, 2014 9:14 am

    Hey folks…..can’t we all just get along? The fish trap is not really the issue is it?

  19. Jimmy Parks on June 29th, 2014 7:07 am

    There are pound nets below the state parks and people fish off the pier at the park. There are pound nets north of the park also. Back in the ’60s there were pound nets from Plantation Creek to Cape Charles Harbor and one on the beach side of the jetty. There were also several pound nets on the bayside of Wescotts going all the way to Smith Beach. We still caught fish. Guess the next thing someone will complain about is a gill net along the harbor side of the jetty or off the beach at Aqua. A man has a right to make a living. Get real — seems like you grew up in a communist nation.

  20. Bill Neville on June 30th, 2014 7:37 am

    Pound nets have been in the area forever. I don’t believe they have much effect on the recreational fishing. When I was growing up in CC the fishing was as good or better and the nets were there then. The nets help to support the local economy, including a working harbor. The harbor is a great and increasing draw for the town. Sitting at the beach or on the boardwalk watching fisherman work their nets as well as watching workboats as they enter and leave the harbor greatly adds to the ambience of the area and it is real life stuff.

  21. Chuck Churn on July 1st, 2014 3:52 pm

    Let the Watermen work so we can enjoy the seafood and they can feed their families. Rather than over-regulating, let’s put our efforts into keeping the bay clean; it would be a much better choice.

  22. Scott MacMoyle on July 2nd, 2014 7:56 pm

    Yes, there are pound nets north and south of Kiptopeke State Park and people still fish from the pier. That’s all true — except they are not catching any fish! Thanks for that.

  23. Melvin W. Williams, Jr. CWO, USCG (Ret) on July 9th, 2014 11:59 am

    As a kid and teenager I used to fish off the jetty and caught a lot of fish even when there were fish traps positioned on both sides of the entrance to the harbor and on the side of the jetty leading up to the beach. I knew a lot of fishers who used to tend to those nets, bringing their catch to Donny’s fish dock, processing, and shipping out. I used to fish off the old ferry dock until I realized that raw sewage was being dumped into the harbor from the sewer pipes under the dock. My close friend Walter Mendoza’s body was found washed up on that very jetty I used to fish off of. The aerial view brought back memories, for as one who grew up there on Strawberry Street graduating from NCHS ’63, I had the opportunity during my Coast Guard career in aviation to have flown in a search over that area and also landing downtown in a Coast Guard helo while stationed at Elizabeth City CG Air Station. I miss the croaker, drum, and spots runs.

  24. Deborah Bender on July 22nd, 2014 8:21 pm

    Good news today for Edward Bender. The VMRC voted unanimously to give Mr. Bender his license for a fish trap just off of Bayshore Concrete.

    Guess the ex mayor doesn’t have as much sway as she thought :-)

  25. Wayne Creed on July 23rd, 2014 3:16 pm

    A victory for data, common sense, and the real Cape Charles….is it too late to appeal the Old School decision to the VMRC? I’m sure they’ll be able to determine where the front of the school is.

  26. Allen Hamilton on July 27th, 2014 10:59 am

    I echo the comments of Don & Debbie Bender, Chuck Churn, Bill Neville, Jimmy Parks and Buster Crabbe, natives and life long residents of the shore as I am. The cost of crabs is out of sight this year due to the shortage. Let watermen try to make a living as they have for the past 400 years. Farming and Fishing have been the backbone of our past. Lets continue the tradition. We all need to live and work together.

  27. Scott MacMoyle on July 27th, 2014 12:28 pm

    I do agree with you. Let the watermen make a living and let’s live and work together. Isn’t it reasonable to set aside one pier for the laymen and the recreational amateurs to enjoy the bay? The governing body allows for 162 pound nets in the bay. The needs of the watermen should and do outweigh the needs of the laymen but I think it’s not asking too much to give them a small spot in the big bay. No?