News from the DNR Office of Communications

Judge Upholds DNR's Suspension Of Convicted Poacher's License

Annapolis, Md. (October 25, 2010) —Zachary W. Seaman, 27 of Wolford, Md., will be prohibited from engaging in any commercial fishing activities in the State of Maryland for the next three oyster seasons, after an administrative law judge upheld the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) proposed suspension.

Natural Resources Police (NRP) arrested Seaman with 31 bushels of oysters —nearly three times the legal limit—on his vessel near Wingate, Md. on December 7, 2009 and charged him with 19 counts of exceeding the daily bushel limit. Less than two months 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 was ultimately convicted for exceeding the oyster daily bushel limit and removing oysters from an oyster sanctuary.

In addition to those charges, Seaman 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.

"This decision is a reminder to everyone that there are serious penalties for taking oysters from an oyster sanctuary and harvesting in excess of the oyster daily bushel limit. Zachary Seaman, and others who wantonly violate natural resources law are not only stealing from the Bay; they’re stealing from all Marylanders,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “We are all investing time and money into restoring the native oyster population and the Bay itself, and we must all work together to protect our investment."

This is one of four recent administrative decisions upholding commercial fishing license suspensions proposed by the DNR for illegal oyster poaching. These suspensions come 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 Plan. 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 9 commercial fishing licenses this year for illegal oyster poaching. 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.

   October 25, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 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