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Eastern Shore Waterman Charged with Oyster Poaching for the Fifth Time

Oyster basketThe Maryland Natural Resources Police last Friday charged two watermen with violating the State’s oyster laws in Talbot County.

Benjamin Leonard Reihl, 26, of Chestertown was charged with eight counts of possession of undersized oysters, marking the fifth time he had been caught oyster poaching this season. Adam Vincent Reihl, 21, of Church Hill, was charged with six counts of possession of undersized oysters.

“Our Natural Resources Police are a critical part of our efforts to protect the Chesapeake,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Poaching oysters hampers our work to protect the health of the Bay and hurts Maryland citizens and hard-working watermen who live, work and play in our waters.” 

Officers stopped a truck on U.S. 50 west of the Choptank River just before 6 p.m. After inspecting and sorting through the vehicle’s cargo, officers determined that 14 bushels of oysters were undersized. The two men were arrested on warrants for unrelated violations.

Benjamin Reihl was charged with possession of a harvest with nine percent undersized oysters taken from the Patuxent River in Calvert County on Oct. 4. Twelve days later, he and another waterman were charged with harvesting 26 bushels of oysters ─ many of them undersized ─ from a Patuxent River sanctuary.

Reihl was again charged with harvesting undersized oysters in Queen Anne’s County on Feb. 21. On March 5, Reihl was one of five watermen caught taking 51 bushels of oysters from a protected area near the mouth of the Wicomico River within Tangier Sound.

Administrative action by DNR against Benjamin Reihl ─ including possible license revocation ─  is pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

Adam Reihl was charged last October in St. Mary’s County with possessing a harvest with 15 percent undersized oysters. He also received citations in February and earlier this month for illegally harvesting oysters.

Both suspects are scheduled to appear in Talbot District Court on May 15.

Enhanced enforcement is a major component of Governor O’Malley’s Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. The oyster recovery blueprint has paved the way for aerial surveillance of oyster beds by NRP officers aboard Maryland State Police helicopters, the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network of radar units and cameras, and specific natural resources dockets in 18 of 24 district courts.


  • Louis Felton

    He can’t keep poaching if he’s in jail !!!!!

  • seacat

    Appears that a no tolerance policy for violators should be the norm with license revocation, no matter what inherited rights people think they deserve. When you have individuals that are continuing violators, what other punishment would set the standard that insures this resource for our grandchildren and their children.

  • B. Plato

    Obviously something more has to be done to this fool. Either quadruple the fine, throw his sorry butt in jail or take his boat, his truck or something as a way to help pay for his total disreguard for the law and others. Isn’t it apparent the current path isn’t working. He has to feel some real pain or he will continue to steal.

  • E Dorsch

    Obviously the judges in this state, especially some of those on the Eastern Shore, do not believe that poaching is crime. The consistent slap-on-the-wrist penalities lead this guys to repeat the offense over and over again. The deterioration of the Chesapeake Bay by overharvesting filter feeders like oysters has left it in a mess, and if guys like this are allowed to continue (imagine how many times he WASN’T CAUGHT), the Bay will never recover.

    If O’Malley were REALLY serious, he’d have proposed MANDATORY loss of license, boat, waterman tools and jail time for repeat or egregious offenders. Enforcement means very little without mandatory meaningful punishment!!!

  • Brian Coakley

    These guys should lose their licenses on the second offense, then be heavily fined. Third offense should include fine and jail time.
    They are stealing OUR natural resources that we are all working so hard to save and preserve