“COASTWATCH” Allows Citizens to Report Marine Poachers via Text Message

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Marine Resources Division has recently launched “COASTWATCH,” an Internet based Tip411 tool that enables the public to anonymously report saltwater fishing violations in Alabama’s coastal waters via text message.

To report a saltwater fishing violation, anyone with a cell phone can now text the keyword “COASTWATCH” to the number 847411. The public is encouraged to include as much detail as possible when reporting a violation such as: the name and description of the suspects, vehicle or boat description, license plate number, boat registration number, clothing description, time of your observation, and the area where the violation occurred.

Examples of saltwater fishing violations include: illegal netting, violations of fish size and limits, shrimping and oystering in closed waters, closed season fishing, and any other suspicious activity. For more information visit www.outdooralabama.com.  

According to Major Chris Blankenship, Acting Director of the Marine Resources Division, citizen involvement is the key to protecting Alabama’s coastal heritage. “This is just another tool to allow the public to provide valuable information as the eyes and ears of fishery enforcement in coastal Alabama,” Blankenship said. “This is an extension of our already successful Coastwatch Trained Observer Network and is another way the Marine Resources Division continues to use technology to protect our natural resources.  We appreciate the support of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) as we work together to provide outdoor recreation for generations to come.”

Tip411 removes all identifying information before ADCNR receives the tip making the sender totally anonymous. The anonymity of the process has produced results in the states using Tip411. Successful tips in Washington state and Wisconsin have resulted in hunting violation convictions. The total anonymity of the program allows concerned citizens to pass on information without fear of retribution.

Tip411 is used by other law enforcement agencies across the country including the Birmingham Police Department and the NYPD. The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) began using the system in September 2010. To report a wildlife or freshwater fishing violation text the keyword “GAMEWATCH” to the number 847411 with as much detail as possible.

The Marine Resources 24 hour telephone tip line is 251-476-1256 and is another way for the public to anonymously report fishing violations in coastal Alabama. Funding for Alabama’s Tip411 program is provided by the AWF and CCA.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions:  Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.  To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com .

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