News from the DNR Office of Communications

Maryland Natural Resource Police Charge Two With Oyster Poaching

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (December 11, 2009) – Less than a week after Governor Martin O’Malley announced the details of Maryland’s proposed Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan, Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) investigated and charged two men with Oyster Poaching.

The investigations resulted in the following charges:

On December 7, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. in Dorchester County, NRP officers charged Zachary Woodland Seaman, 26 of Woolford, Maryland with exceeding the daily limit of oysters.

NRP found Seaman with 31 bushels of oysters onboard his vessel near Wingate, MD. Maryland regulation permits a power dredge licensee to have a maximum of 12 bushels. Seaman was issued one count for each bushel that exceeded the daily limit. The court date for the offense is March 24, 2009 at 1:30 pm in District Court in Maryland.

On December 10, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. in Somerset County, NRP charged Ben Harrison Marshall, 33, of Newcomb, Maryland, with power dredging for oysters in a restricted area and possession of unculled oysters.

NRP Officers observed Marshall power dredging on Halls Bars in Tangier Sound an area reserved for harvesting oysters by patent tongs and hand tongs only.

When NRP Officers boarded and inspected Marshall’s boat, they found that Marshall had 12 bushels of oysters on board. A sampling of the catch revealed that 23 percent of the oysters where unculled (oysters that are under size, dead, just the shells or other matter that are required to be returned to the waters). Unculled oysters are essential for oyster repopulation. The 12 bushel of oysters were seized and returned to Halls Bar.

The maximum penalty for each offense is $1,000. Additionally, operators who violate state fishing laws are not eligible to participate in DNR-funded restoration and work projects.

Last week, Governor Martin O’Malley released the details of Maryland’s Proposed Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan, a new multi-faceted effort to rebuild Maryland’s decimated native oyster population. The plan will build on efforts to expand oyster sanctuaries and increase aquaculture leasing opportunities, while maintaining a more targeted, scientifically managed public fishery.

As part of the plan, DNR is undertaking a number of enforcement reforms, among them, working with federal partners to install a network of radars and cameras that will help the NRP monitor oyster sanctuaries and prevent poaching.

   December 11, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at