Chinese Pirate Poacher Caught 2nd time in week; Crisfield commercial waterman Ryan Brittingham busted for poaching in oyster sanctuary

This was number one poaching event!

Special from the Daily Press: A Virginia Marine Police sting early Saturday morning netted two suspects accused of poaching hundreds, or possibly thousands, of protected fish from a Hampton Roads waterway.

Marine police have had numerous complaints about poaching in the southern branch of the Elizabeth River over the last two weeks, according to Marine Police Officer Bill Thompson. Marine police had found many untended, illegal and hidden nets that had trapped and killed between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds of protected fish species in that waterway recently.


Laurie Naismith of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission confirmed to THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY that two more fishermen have been nabbed with thousands of pounds of protected fish in their possession, with one of the men, Bi Chen of Norfolk, holding a commercial fishing license. Both men face possible felony charges.

Bi Chao Chen:

Possession of oversize red drum

Possession of oversize red drum (second charge in same week)

Possession of over limit red drum

Possession of over limit red drum (second charge in same week)

Over limit commercial landing quota

Operating power vessel after sunset without navigation lights

Additional charges are pending.

Yuanjie Lin – 4VAC20-670-30

Using recreational Gill Net to catch commercially regulated fish 28.2-905

Refuse seafood inspection by dumping fish overboard 4VAC20-280-30

Possession of Oversize Red Drum 4VAC20-280-40

Possession of Over Limit Red Drum 4VAC20-280-40a

Possession of Over Limit Speckled Trout 4VAC20-280-30b

Possession of Oversized Speckled Trout 4VAC20-430-20

Improperly Marked Gill Net 4VAC20-670-30a

Unattended Recreational Gill Net

-Mr. Chen was the only individual with a Commercial Watermen’s License.  He was only licensed for up to 2 gill nets, less than 600 ft in length.

-Mr. Lin was not licensed as a commercial watermen. (operating recreationally)

-The charges brought upon both will be charged in the city of Chesapeake

-Additional charges for Mr. Chen are still pending (due to the weather) and have not been served yet, but they are as follows:

  1. Improperly set gill net across a waterway. (net may not exceed 1/4 width of body of water)  (2) charges for two separate nets.
  2. Improperly marked gill net. (1) charge.

Virginia Marine Police Snag Poachers with Hundreds of Prized Virginia Trophy Fish, Speckled Trout and Red Drum

(NEWPORT NEWS, VA) —  Bi Chen of Norfolk, Virginia and Yuan Li of Chesapeake, Virginia were caught in the Elizabeth River after 6 PM last evening, February 13, 2015,  with hundreds of Speckled Trout and Red Drum, both prized Virginia Trophy fish. By regulation only three Red Drum, 18-26 inches long can be caught and  five speckled trout, 14-24  inches long. These two individuals, although unrelated and fishing in separate locations had hundreds of fish, many female Speckled Trout carrying millions of eggs, called shad. One, Fisherman had recently received a commercial fishing license from VMRC the other Fisherman was fishing without a license.

A team of six Virginia Marine Police undertook the undercover operations after 6 PM in 20 degree weather, at two locations, the Hot Ditch Area of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and another called The Cove, in the Deep Creek Channel of the Elizabeth River. Both places are well known by recreational fishermen.

Chen and Li were caught fishing with gill nets which is illegal for these two species of fish. Two gill nets were  placed across the inlet and were estimated to be over 200 feet long. The nets were placed at night and not visible. Report of the illegal activity came from local citizens and other watermen.

Marine Police Officer’s said “one of the boats was so full that the poacher was putting them in garbage bags on top of the baskets filled with fish on the floor of the boat. It was 20 degrees and the fish and the nets were frozen. The other poacher had a small pontoon like boat with a very small motor. It was so full of fish that it is amazing the boat did not sink.”

“These fish are so prized by the recreational fishing community that local fishermen practice catch and release because they want to be sure they can release them successfully if they are not the legal size or if they have already caught their limit” Officers said. “Both poachers said they were catching the fish to celebrate the Chinese New Year.” All fish seized have been donated to area Food Banks and Homeless Shelters.

Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake – Cops Charge Ryan Brittingham with Raid of Oyster Sanctuary

TANGIER, MD. — In Somerset County, NRP has charged a sixth waterman with illegally harvesting oysters from protected state waters in connection with an incident on Feb. 12, 2015 in the Somerset Oyster Sanctuary in Tangier Sound.

Ryan Christopher Brittingham, 25, of 3259 Lawsonia Road in Crisfield, was charged by NRP Officer Jeffrey Howard with illegally harvesting wild oysters in an oyster sanctuary after officers conducting surveillance watched four vessels enter the protected area and remove 36 ½ bushels of oysters. The oysters were seized and returned to the sanctuary.

Brittingham is scheduled to appear with the other watermen in Somerset District Court in Princess Anne, Md., on April 7. If found guilty, he could be fined as much as $3,000 and have his commercial license suspended for up to one year.

On Oct. 30, 2014 Brittingham was cited by NRP Officer Brimer with possession of undersized oysters of 6 percent. In a plea deal with Somerset States Attorney Daniel W. Powell, Brittingham entered a guilty plea in Somerset County District Court and was fined $132.50 and court costs of $22.50.

Brittingham has had minor brushes with the law from consuming alcohol in public in Ocean City to possession of pot. He was charged with operating without a permit on Rt. 13 by Somerset County Sheriff’s Deputy R. Redding on June 16, 2014 and the charge was dropped by Somerset States Attorney Daniel W. Powell in District Court on Aug. 19, 2014.


The classic definition of Pirates: those who steal and plunder the goods and earnings of others by armed force for their own benefit and distribute to their friends. That also defines government.

From the Virginia Marine Resources Commission:

February 12, 2015:  The Commission would like to remind commercial harvesters and buyers that 80 percent of the 51,104 pound commercial landings quota for speckled trout has been taken for the season that began on September 1, 2014 and will extend through August 31, 2015. It is unlawful, for any commercial fisherman registration licensee, to take, harvest, land or possess a daily bycatch limit of more than 100 pounds of speckled trout. That daily bycatch landing limit of speckled trout shall consist of at least an equal amount of other fish species.

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