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Judge Permanently Revokes Commercial Fishing License of Repeat Offender

oysterA Talbot County Circuit judge has upheld a lifetime fishing ban on a former waterman with a record of multiple poaching convictions.

“The court’s decision affirms the wisdom of the General Assembly, which recognized the significance of crimes against the public trust and the severity of their impact on our natural world,” said DNR Secretary Joe Gill. “Stealing from our public fishery is an offense against all of us, and especially the State’s honest, hardworking watermen.”

Joseph Bruce Janda Jr., 28, of Wittman, had his commercial license permanently revoked a year ago by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Over a decade, Janda has been charged more than 60 times and been found guilty on numerous occasions for poaching oysters, illegal striped bass fishing and harvesting undersized crabs. In addition, he has been convicted of fishing without a license and fishing on a suspended license.

In 2011, Janda was cited for two crabbing violations within a two-year period worth 35 points on his licenses, which triggered a revocation hearing by an administrative law judge.

In writing last Friday, Judge J. Owen Wise rejected Janda’s appeal, calling him a “chronic offender” who had accumulated 415 days of suspensions.

“A license is a privilege and therefore something which can be taken away, or not granted at all (as with hunting and driver’s licenses) so petitioner does not have a lifelong right to take resources from bays, rivers and creeks,” Wise ruled. “The law does not say that a person has to violate all laws pertaining to each marine resource before his/her license can be suspended or revoked.”

In addition to revoking Janda’s license, Wise also ruled he is permanently banned from being on any boat harvesting oysters and cannot be involved in any activity associated with oyster harvesting. Further, Janda is barred from engaging in commercial fishing activities, even ones supervised by a license holder.

Tougher penalties, authorized by the General Assembly, have created a “one and done” revocation process for the most egregious offenders and increased the penalty for engaging in commercial fishing with a suspended license, a revoked license or without a license, by establishing a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.

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.