News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR Suspends Poacher's License To Harvest Oysters

Annapolis, Md. (February 2, 2011) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has served John Hunter Haddaway, 23 of Tilghman, Md., with an Order for Summary Suspension, suspending his entitlement to harvest, buy, sell or cull oysters for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season. Haddaway was most recently apprehended for harvesting oysters from an oyster sanctuary, his eighth natural resource violation since 2005.

“These offenses represent a serious violation of the public’s trust that must be met with serious consequences,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “We must continue to send the message to poachers that abuse of our shared resources, and putting the future of those resources at risk, will not be tolerated.”

On January 17, 2011, Haddaway was arrested by Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) officers and charged with poaching oysters from an oyster sanctuary. After observing Haddaway dredging for oysters five miles northwest of Crisfield in the Tangier Sound Oyster Sanctuary, NRP officers seized 12 bushels of oysters from his boat and returned them to the sanctuary. A trial date for this offense has been set for March 31, 2011 in the District Court of Maryland for Somerset County.

Haddaway was previously apprehended on December 22, 2010 with 15 bushels of oysters onboard his vessel north of the Tangier Sound Oyster Sanctuary, three bushels above the authorized limit. He was charged with exceeding the daily bushel limit for oysters and failing to display his Tidal Fishing License number on the vehicle transporting his catch. He is scheduled to appear in court for both charges on March 10, 2011.

In the past, Haddaway was convicted of with several other natural resource violations; in December of 2007, he was convicted for taking oysters without a commercial license; on January 2007, he was convicted for possession of undersized oysters; in December of 2006, he was convicted for possession of undersized oysters; in September of 2006, he was convicted for crabbing without a commercial license; and in January of 2006, he was convicted for taking oysters without a commercial license and dredging for oysters in a restricted area.

Since 1994, the Chesapeake Bay oyster population has languished at 1 percent of historic levels. Over the past 25 years, the amount of suitable oyster habitat has declined by 80 percent — from 200,000 acres to just 36,000 acres. Maryland’s annual oyster harvest has fallen from an average of 2.5 million bushels in the late 1960s to about 100,000 bushels a year since 2002, while the number of oystermen working Maryland’s portion of the Bay has dwindled from more than 2000 to just 550.

Last year, Governor Martin O’Malley put in place an Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. The plan increased Maryland’s network of oyster sanctuaries — from 9 percent to 24 percent of remaining quality habitat; increased areas open to leasing for oyster aquaculture and streamlined the permitting process; and maintained 76 percent of the Bay’s remaining quality oyster habitat for a more targeted, sustainable, and scientifically managed public oyster fishery.

   February 2, 2011

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

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million 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 11 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