Judge Permanently Revokes Tilghman Man's Oyster Harvesting Privileges

ANNAPOLIS (October 6, 2010)—Edward Lowery Jr., 45, of Tilghman, Md.—located directly across from North Beach, Calvert County on the Chesapeake Bay—will no longer be legally allowed to harvest oysters in the State of Maryland after an administrative law judge upheld the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) revocation of Lowery’s oyster privileges. The judge made this decision after reviewing Lowery’s long list of egregious violations of Natural Resource Law.

“This decision is an important message to anyone who wantonly breaks natural resource law,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “We must all work together to rebuild our fragile native oyster population, and we must protect what Marylanders have already invested.”

Natural Resources Police caught Lowery harvesting oysters with a power dredge in an area reserved for hand tonging at 2 a.m., January 21, 2009. NRP charged him with power dredging outside the legal hours, possession of oysters on a vessel more than 2 hours after sunset and power dredging in a hand tong only area.

DNR previously suspended Lowery’s license for the first 10 days of the 2009-2010 season and yet, on October, 1 2009, the first day of the season, NRP caught Lowery harvesting oysters and charged him with harvesting oysters on a suspended license.

In addition to these charges, Lowery has more than 30 convictions for natural resource violations, including:

— In November 2008, he was convicted for clamming with a hydraulic dredge too close to a natural oyster bar.

— In September 2008, he was convicted of illegal possession of striped bass.

— In May 2008, he was convicted of possessing fish in excess of his catch limit.

— In February 2007, he was convicted of dredging for oysters in a prohibited area.

— In April 2007, he was convicted of possessing undersized oysters.

This decision comes on the heels of both the opening of the 2010 oyster season and implementation of Governor Martin O’Malley’s Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development. The plan increases Maryland’s network of oyster sanctuaries, expands the leasing opportunities for oyster aquaculture, and maintains 75 percent of productive bottom for a more targeted, sustainable and scientifically-managed public oyster fishery.

A noteworthy part of this program is the launch of increased enforcement initiatives. DNR has suspended or revoked 6 commercial fishing licenses this year for oyster violations and is awaiting decisions in 3 additional suspension cases. DNR’s enforcement efforts will be aided by a network of radar and camera units in sensitive areas that are prone to poaching, which went online this month.

Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

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