Skip to content

October 31, 2013

2

NRP Boosts Enforcement as Oystering Kicks into High Gear

by Martha

New radar network provides 24-hour coverage

With the most active part of Maryland’s six-month oyster season opening tomorrow, Natural Resources Police (NRP) is employing a three-pronged approach to catch poachers with stepped-up patrols on water and in the air augmented by the latest detection equipment.

“This Governor has a message for oyster outlaws: The days of playing cat-and-mouse games with conservation law enforcement officers are dwindling. We will find you and put you out of business,” said Col. George F. Johnson, NRP superintendent.

Officers riding as observers in Maryland State Police helicopters will be covering vast swaths of water, looking for poachers working off-hours, doubling limits and harvesting in protected areas.

Before sunrise, saturation patrols will be blanketing oyster bars and sanctuaries known to attract illegal activities.

Helping to guide both efforts is NRP’s newest weapon, a web of radar units and cameras called MLEIN ─ Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network. The state-of-the-art system allows land- and water-based officers to establish invisible “picket lines” around sites that alert them when protect areas are breached.

“MLEIN is a force multiplier, expanding our reach and acting as another set of eyes for our officers,” Johnson said. “Make no mistake. We are always watching.”

Johnson emphasized that citizens can play a vital part in the effort, too, by anonymously calling the Catch-A-Poacher hotline with tips: 800-635-6124.

State law permits power dredging from November 1 through the end of March in designated areas of Calvert, Dorchester, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot and Wicomico counties. Oysters must be a minimum of three inches. The daily limit for power dredging is 12 bushels per person, not to exceed 24 bushels per boat.

Historically, three-quarters of all citations issued by NRP are for undersized and unculled oysters. As the holidays approach, the demand for oysters increases, and with it, the temptation to satisfy the market.

“Law-abiding watermen who work long, hard hours to make a living find themselves being punished by poachers who care only for their own profit,” Johnson said. “Enforcement helps level the playing field.”

Enhanced enforcement is one of the goals under Governor Martin O’Malley’s 10-point Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. In 2011, he signed a sweeping law that included stricter penalties for both egregious first-time and serial offenders.

Last month, the Governor announced that a record 1.25 billion spat produced at the University of Maryland Horn Point Lab Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge had been planted, mostly in oyster sanctuaries. These sanctuaries help rebuild the native oyster population and improve water quality.

Contact: Candy Thomson
NRP Public Information Officer
410-260-8893 office I 410-279-3916 cell
cthomson@dnr.state.md.us
Be Sociable, Share!
    2 Comments Post a comment
    1. Kenneth Platt
      Nov 2 2013

      One of the reasons people might be tempted to work prohibited areas is that Gov Marty took 26% of the Chesapeake Bay’s best oyster grounds. This places the fleet in the remaining 74%. There is no oyster shortage. Till a cyclical run of oyster death occurs and all the state of Maryland’s hoarded oysters are no longer a success story. Also what country is this that can impose lifetime revocations of oyster licenses for the mere charge of offenses? With total technological surveillance and hostile courts perhaps convictions could result in revocations and not the mere charge of an offense.

      Reply
    2. Gary
      Nov 6 2013

      I’m glad to see that the NRP is stepping up to the plate.Enforcing the law is their job.These poachers need to be stopped and punished.The Chesapeake Bay is one of our greatest natural resources.And I would like to see it that way.

      Reply

    Leave a comment

    required
    required

    *

    Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

    Subscribe to comments