PIRATE POACHERS OF THE CHESAPEAKE: Judge issues lifetime ban against Hans Kuntze for poaching oysters in sanctuary
NANTICOKE, MD. — Another Pirate Poacher of the Chesapeake will be looking for a new way to steal a living after his waterman’s license was revoked by a Judge for poaching in an oyster sanctuary.
Natural Resources police report Hans Eric Kuntze, 59, of Nanticoke, has until Sept. 29 to appeal the decision.
On June 28, Kuntze was seen dredging for oysters more than 200 feet inside the Nanticoke River Sanctuary by officers conducting surveillance. When he returned to the dock at Cedar Hill Harbor, officers inspected the seven and one-half bushels and found all the oysters to be of legal size.
Kuntze was given citations for harvesting wild oysters from a sanctuary, harvesting oysters in a closed season, failing to have his commercial license available for inspection and failing to have a proper waste container on board. The oysters were returned to the sanctuary.
At his hearing, police report that Kuntze argued that one of the markers used to set the boundary of a lease area inside the sanctuary, where he had permission to harvest, was off its correct position. He also insisted that swift current could have pushed him into the restricted area.
Judge Ann Kehinde noted that Kuntze had GPS on his boat and had received from state officials maps and coordinates of the sanctuary. She concluded that state officials had “established by a preponderance of the evidence that [Kuntze] took oysters located more than 200 feet within a closed or prohibited area.”
On July 29, Kuntze received citations for possessing 97 undersized male crabs and having eight female crabs in a mixed bushel.
After an inspection revealed the violations, Kuntze told officers his crab gauge must be wrong. However, he did not take up an officer’s offer to check it. Officers seized the crabs and returned them to the water.
Kuntze is required to appear in Wicomico County District Court to answer for both citations because of previous convictions for the same offenses. The June oyster charges also remain active on the court docket.