News from the DNR Office of Communications

Judge Suspends Convicted Poacher's Commercial License For 1 Year

Rock Hall man found guilty of possessing oversized striped bass

Centreville, MD (March 12, 2010) – A Queen Anne’s County District Court judge found John Franklin Riggs, 45 of Rock Hall, guilty of possessing oversized rockfish and suspended the waterman’s tidal fish license for a year. This suspension means Riggs cannot engage in any commercial fishing activity until March 10, 2011.

“We commend the court’s decision on this very important issue,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin. “Hard working Marylanders have invested far too much in our Bay and our fisheries to allow the theft of these fragile resources.”

NRP charged Riggs on January 11, 2010 with possessing striped bass larger than 36” during the commercial striped bass gill net season; Riggs also has a history of natural resources violations.

On December 26 – well outside legal harvesting hours – NRP arrested Riggs with seven bushels of oysters on his boat. Then, on February 24 NRP arrested Riggs for failing to check in striped bass during the required times. NRP officers located striped bass hidden in the cabin of a boat belonging to Riggs. The fish were not checked into a DNR check station within three hours of completing a fishing trip and before 9:00 pm.

Riggs is also facing charges of failing to properly mark gill nets in the Chesapeake Bay and setting or maintaining an unattended striped bass gill net. On February 24, NRP officers located several unattended striped bass gill nets in the Chesapeake Bay and were able to identify the nets as belonging to Riggs.

Since Rigg’s initial arrest, DNR has implemented a new penalty system. Under the new system, which went into effect February 22, crimes are now organized into three tiers, which carry both immediate penalties and points that can be accrued toward a suspension of a license. For egregious violations, DNR can suspend a license on a first offense.

Rigg’s has 30 days to file an appeal.

   March 11, 2010

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