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April 18, 2014

Maryland, Virginia Team Up to Halt Internet Oyster Operation

by dnruser

Natural Resources Police LogoA Princess Anne man was charged Thursday, April 17, with selling oysters without a license after an investigation by Maryland and Virginia natural resources police officers.

Christopher Shawn Jester, 31, was advertising on the Internet that he was selling “wild-caught” oysters harvested in Virginia. Jester has a Virginia aquaculture license that allows him to sell oysters from aquaculture beds only to a licensed seafood dealer.

“Even though the oyster harvesting season ended on March 31, our officers continue to monitor both the water and the region’s markets—even those online—to ensure our conservation laws are being obeyed,” said Col. George F. Johnson IV, superintendent of the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Officers posing as buyers arranged to purchase five bushels of oysters in untagged bags for $300. Upon completion of the transaction in WorcesterCounty, Jester was charged by NRP, with assistance from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. The cash and oysters were seized and the oysters were sold to Southern Connection Seafood for $175.

“This is a great example of how Maryland and Virginia law enforcement officers work together to ensure oyster harvest laws are followed and consumers are protected,” said Commissioner John M.R. Bull of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. “If these oysters were truly from Virginia, they were required to be tagged, which would show they are of the highest quality.”

Jester is scheduled to appear in Snow Hill District Court on May 16.

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