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NRP Charges Two Watermen with Oyster Violations in Final Days of Season

Natural Resources Police LogoDuring the final days of the 2014-15 oyster season, Maryland Natural Resources Police officers charged two watermen with illegal harvesting.

A St. Mary’s County waterman was arrested Tuesday, the last day of the season, after he hindered attempts by NRP officers to check his catch.

James Phillip Nelson, 38, of Hollywood, was charged with obstructing a law enforcement officer and refusing to obey a lawful order. In addition, NRP will be issuing citations for oyster law violations.

Officers checking catches at Feldman’s Marine Railway saw Nelson leave the dock and return at about 2:50 p.m. As the officer approached Nelson and his helper after they trailered the vessel, Nelson attempted to reverse his trailer toward the boat ramp. During the distraction, the helper hid a bucket among the outbuildings.

Nelson was angry and refused to comply with multiple orders from the officers, who attempted to handcuff him to keep him in one location. The waterman continued to resist and was sprayed with oleoresin capsicum, or OC, spray. He was taken into custody and driven to the St. Mary’s County Detention Center.

Officers inspected and measured the 12 bushels of oysters on Nelson’s vessel and found that 10 bushels contained between seven and 10 percent undersized oysters. The bucket contained 28 percent undersized oysters.

Nelson is to be charged with overharvesting, improper tagging and having unculled oysters.

Meanwhile on Monday, in Queen Anne’s County, NRP officers on surveillance charged a waterman with dredging for oysters in a portion of Eastern Bay outside an approved area.

Ryan Daniel Baxter, 21, of Queen Anne, was cited for dredging in county waters, a power dredge permit violation and failing to possess a registration.

An officer saw Baxter harvesting oysters outside the Parsons Island Power Dredge Study Area. The officer returned seven bushels of oysters to state waters.

Baxter is scheduled to appear in Queen Anne’s District Court on July 1. If found guilty of the three charges, he could be fined more than $1,500.