Pirate Poachers of the Bay: Oyster poaching season ramps up as legal season opens


Hand tonging

The 2015-2016 oyster harvest season kicked off on Oct. 1, 2015 in Maryland. The six-month season runs from Oct. 1 through March 31.

“The cooling weather signals the gradual transition from harvesting blue crabs to oysters, and reminds us how fortunate we are in Maryland to have these resources, ”Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “It also signals that we have the duty and responsibility to protect this Chesapeake Bay tradition for future generations by being good stewards.”

Maryland had 1,134 licensed oyster harvesters last season. A similar number is expected this year. For the first month of the season, only hand tonging, patent tonging and diving are permitted. Power and sail dredging begin Nov. 1, when harvest activity rises dramatically.

Maryland’s watermen harvested a total of 393,588 bushels with a dockside value of $17.3 million in 2014-2015 ─ the second highest total in at least 15 years due to healthy oyster reproduction in 2010 and 2012. Talbot States Attorney Scott Patterson lets Lynch Brothers skate on charges without paying a penny in fines for oyster poachingThe 2014 Fall Oyster Survey indicated that the oyster population is continuing to hold steady, with a biomass index ─ a combined measure of oyster abundance and size ─ more than doubling since 2010 to reach near its highest point since this type of monitoring began in 1993.

However, due to reduced oyster reproduction in recent years, the harvest will likely see a decline this season.

In order to protect this resource, the men and women of the Natural Resources Police will employ water patrols, aerial and radar surveillance, and inspection of wholesale and retail establishments. Violators will have their cases heard in district court before a judge well-versed in natural resources law.

Last year, officers wrote 281 citations for oyster violations ranging from possessing undersized oysters to poaching oysters in protected sanctuaries.


The following is contact information with email addresses for States Attorneys of the counties that surround the Chesapeake Bay and are often presented with citations and violations to prosecute for Maryland’s outlaw watermen. They are all elected officials and have complete and total control as to whether or not to prosecute Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake or to dump the charges.  Be sure to contact any of these officials with your views on the matter.


SCOTT D. SHELLENBERGER, Baltimore County State’s Attorney (Democrat)

Email: statesattorney@baltimorecountymd.gov

State’s Attorney, Baltimore County, since January 2, 2007.

Prosecutor, Office of State’s Attorney, Baltimore County, 1982-93 (former chief, child abuse/sexual assault division).

EDWARD DORSEY ELLIS ROLLINS III, Cecil State’s Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: cflaugher@ccgov.org

State’s Attorney, Cecil County, since January 3, 2011.

MATTHEW A. MACIARELLO, Wicomico County State’s Attorney (Republican),
e-mail: mmaciarello@wicomicocounty.org

State’s Attorney, Wicomico County, since January 3, 2011. Deputy State’s Attorney, Wicomico County, November 8, 2010, to January 3, 2011.

Scott Patterson, Talbot County States Attorney (Democrat): State’s Attorney, Talbot County, 1983-86, and since 1989. Assistant State’s Attorney, Montgomery County, 1972-75. Special Assistant to Attorney General, 1975. Assistant State’s Attorney, Anne Arundel County.

LANCE G. RICHARDSON, Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: lrichardson@qac.org

State’s Attorney, Queen Anne’s County, since January 5, 2009. Assistant Public Defender, Queen Anne’s County, 1996-2003. Deputy State’s Attorney, Queen Anne’s County

HARRIS P. MURPHY, Kent County State’s Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: hmurphy@kentgov.org, State’s Attorney, Kent County, since January 5, 2015.

Daniel Powell, Somerset County States Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: dpowell@co.somerset.md.us

State’s Attorney, Somerset County, since January 3, 2011.  Former Assistant State’s Attorney, Baltimore County. Former Assistant State’s Attorney, Dorchester County. Former Assistant State’s Attorney, Somerset County. County Administrator, Somerset County, 2007-09.

JONATHAN G. NEWELL, Caroline County State’s Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: jnewell@carolinesao.org

State’s Attorney, Caroline County, since 2003.

Assistant Public Defender, Caroline County, 1999-2001. Deputy State’s Attorney, Kent County

BEAU H. OGLESBY, Worcester County State’s Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: boglesby@co.worcester.md.us

State’s Attorney, Worcester County, since January 3, 2011.

Assistant State’s Attorney, Wicomico County, 1997-2007. Deputy State’s Attorney, Caroline County, 2009-10.

WILLIAM H. JONES Dorchester County States Attorney, (Democrat)

e-mail: wjones@docogonet.com

State’s Attorney, Dorchester County, since June 19, 2009. Assistant State’s Attorney, 2002-04. Senior Assistant State’s Attorney, 2004-07. Interim State’s Attorney, April 11, 2007 to June 19, 2009.

WES ADAMS, Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: aacsao@aacounty.org

State’s Attorney, Anne Arundel County, since January 5, 2015.  Assistant State’s Attorney, Prince George’s County, 1998-2000. Assistant State’s Attorney, Baltimore City, 2000-08. Chief, Homicide Division, State’s Attorney’s Office, Prince George’s County, 2008-15 (assistant chief, 2008). Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, 2006-07.

ANTHONY B. (TONY) COVINGTON, State’s Attorney (Democrat)

e-mail: covingtt@charlescounty.org

State’s Attorney, Charles County, since January 3, 2011. Deputy State’s Attorney, Charles County, 2008-.  Assistant State’s Attorney, Prince George’s County, 1991-93. Assistant State’s Attorney, Charles County, 1993-97.

LAURA L. MARTIN, Calvert County State’s Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: martinll@co.cal.md.us

State’s Attorney, Calvert County, since January 2007.  Assistant State’s Attorney, Prince George’s County, 1989-98 (assistant chief, homicide division, 1994-98). Deputy State’s Attorney, Calvert County, September 1998 to December 2005.

RICHARD D. FRITZ, St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: richard.fritz@co.saint-marys.md.us

State’s Attorney, St. Mary’s County, since December 1998. Former Assistant State’s Attorney and Deputy State’s Attorney, St. Mary’s County.

JOSEPH I. CASSILLY, Harford County State’s Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: statty@harfordcountymd.gov

State’s Attorney, Harford County, since January 1983. Assistant State’s Attorney, Harford County, 1977-82

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