News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR Suspends Two Poachers’ Licenses To Harvest Oysters

Both men have long previous records of breaking the law

Rock Hall, MD (February 3, 2010) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) served Zachary W. Seaman, 26 of Woolford, Md. and Edward B. Lowery, 45 of Tilgman, Md. with Orders for Summary Suspension on February 2, suspending their entitlement to catch oysters for the rest of the season. This marks the second time DNR has used its authority given under State law, which provides that a unit of State government may order the suspension of a license if the public health, safety or welfare requires emergency action.

“These are serious acts, violating the public’s trust and stealing from future generations of working Marylanders,” said Secretary John Griffin. “This is a warning. We take wanton abuse of the law very seriously. We are all working together, sacrificing to return a robust native oyster population to our bay, and we must move forward. Oyster poaching moves us dangerously in the wrong direction.”

Natural Resources Police (NRP) 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. Lowery is scheduled to appear in court on March 18.

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. Six days later, NRP caught Lowery harvesting oysters again. Officers also found undersized oysters on his boat. NRP charged Lowery again with harvesting oysters on a suspended license and charged him with possession of undersized oyster.

Lowery also failed to appear for both court dates; his first date has been rescheduled for February 19, and the second date has yet to be scheduled.

In addition to these charges, Lowery has more than 30 Natural Resource violations, including:

  • In November of 2008, he was convicted for clamming with a hydraulic dredge too close to a natural oyster bar.
  • In September of 2008, he was convicted of illegal possession of striped bass.
  • In May of 2008, he was convicted of possessing fish in excess of his catch limit.
  • In February of 2007, he was convicted of dredging for oysters in a prohibited area.
  • In April of 2007, he was convicted of possessing undersized oysters.
  • NRP arrested Seaman with 31 bushels of oysters on his vessel near Wingate, Md. on December 7, 2009—nearly three times the legal limit—and charged Seaman with 19 counts of exceeding the daily bushel limit. Less than a month later, NRP caught Seaman harvesting oysters in the Hooper’s Island Straight Oyster Sanctuary, and officers charged him with removing oysters from a sanctuary. Seaman is scheduled to appear in court March 21 and 24.

    In addition to those charges, Seaman has failed to submit the required monthly reports for October 2009 and November 2009, and has a history of Natural Resources violations, including:

  • In August of 2007, he was convicted of possessing striped bass during a closed season.
  • In March 2007, he was convicted of possessing oysters over the legal limit.
  • In February 2004, he was convicted of possessing undersized oysters.
  • In July of 2003, he was convicted of possessing undersized crabs.
  • Within the first 15 days of being served, Lowery and Seaman will be allowed to request a hearing to show cause why the order should not be continued.

    The Order for Summary Suspension, the charges against the two watermen and a number of other recent oyster-related charges come on the heels of Governor Martin O’Malley’s proposal for a new management and restoration plan for oysters and the Maryland oyster industry. The proposed plan will increase Maryland’s network of oyster sanctuaries, expand the leasing opportunities for oyster aquaculture, and maintain 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 enhanced enforcement initiatives and enhancements including the installation of a network of radar and camera units to assist the NRP in monitoring sensitive areas that are prone to poaching.


       February 3, 2010

    Contact: Josh Davidsburg
    410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
    jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

    The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 467,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov