After a two-week investigation by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs), two people were charged with selling 150 illegal tautog, locallaly known as blackfish. A thrid person has also been charged for purchasing the fish illegally.
ECOs nailed the two unlicensed fisherman, Matthew Ervolino and Matthew
J. Savarese as they were weighing the fish before exchanging money with Ding
Hai Yen from New Harbor Food, Inc in Flushing, NY The total weight of the fish came to more than 382 pounds.
"DEC establishes recreational fishing limits so individuals can enjoy a
fishing resource at a sustainable level," said DEC Region 1 Regional
Director Peter A. Scully. "When individuals drastically overfish their
recreational limit and then attempt to sell these fish, they are not
only depleting the fishing stock, but taking advantage of commercial
fisherman who are playing by the rules and harvesting fish at their
The arrests were made at a West Islip residence where they kept pens to
sell live tautog to the New York City market. The fish have an
approximate value of $2,000 on the black market.
Ervolino, 34, of West Babylon and Saverese, 36, of Holbrook were each
charged with unlawful possession and sale of the blackfish, selling
without a commercial food fish license, and possessing over the limit
and undersized blackfish, each a misdemeanor under the Environmental
Conservation Law (ECL) carrying fines of up to $5,000 for each charge and/or
one year in jail.
Yen, 56, was charged with purchasing fish from the unlicensed fishermen,
also a misdemeanor carrying fines of up to $5,000 for each charge
and/or one year in jail under the ECL.
Suffolk County District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case and may have additional charges
To report any environmental crime, please contact DEC's toll free
24-hour TIPP hotline at: 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332). DEC keeps the
identity of all TIPP callers confidential.
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