News from the DNR Office of Communications

NRP Blotter: More Than 3 Tons Of Dead Rockfish Found In Illegal Nets

Annapolis, Maryland (May 4, 2011)Calvert County/Talbot County – The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) located 1400 yards of illegal anchored gillnet containing more than 3 tons of dead rockfish.

On May 1, NRP responded to the Chesapeake Bay near buoy 82, west of Tilghman Island for a report of an illegal anchored gillnet. Officers located the net but were unable to retrieve it due to the weight of the dead fish. On May 2, the S. V. Sandusky, the DNR ice breaker/buoy tender, was dispatched to retrieve the net. Sea and wind conditions prevented the crew from pulling in the net.

On May 3, with much improved sea conditions, the crew of the Sandusky and NRP officers were able to retrieve 1400 yards of anchored gillnet which contained approximately 450 striped bass weighing 6,750 pounds.

Nearly all of the fish were dead and had to taken to the landfill. The net appeared to have been out since January and February due to the condition of the net and fish.

NRP is encouraging anyone with information on this incident, please call the Natural Resources Police Communication Center at 800-628-9944.

Calvert County – NRP arrested and charged George Lee Vansickle, 42, of Solomon’s Island with second degree assault, operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by alcohol and operating a vessel while impaired by a combination of alcohol and drugs. Ashley Lynn Denningham, 28, of Solomon’s Island was also arrested on a failure to appear warrant.

On May 3, at 4:30 p.m., NRP responded to the report of an assault occurring on a sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay near Drum Point in Calvert County. The officers located the 29 foot sailboat and an investigation revealed that the owner/operator of the sailboat, Vansickle, had assaulted and grabbed the throat of Denningham during an argument over a cell phone.

Both subjects were transported to the Prince Frederick Detention to await appearance before a court commissioner.

Wicomico County – On May 3, NRP recovered the body of a boater that went missing on April 29 after his aground sailboat was found unoccupied. Edwin Thomas Smullen, 59 of Tyaskin, Md. was found in the Nanticoke River near the location were his sailboat was found. Smullen had been the object of an intense search by land, water and air that was conducted by NRP, Coast Guard, Maryland State Police, Westside and Allen Volunteer Fire companies. NRP’s search employed side scan sonar, K-9 cadaver dogs and dragging operations. Smullen’s body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for autopsy.

Prince Georges County – On May 1, at approximately 3:00 p.m., NRP responded to the area of Swan Creek near Tantallon Marina for a report of a deceased person in the water. NRP’s investigation revealed that George Albert Goins, 61, of Fort Washington was living on a 50 foot house boat in Swan Creek and was last seen on Friday, April 29. When friends were unable to contact Goins, they went to look for him on his house and found him unresponsive, face down in the water. Goins’ body was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy. NRP is continuing the investigation.

  May 4, 2011

Contact: Sgt. A.A. Windemuth
410-260-8850 office | 410-713-8449 cell

The Maryland Natural Resources Police is the enforcement arm of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). With an authorized strength of 247 officers and a dedicated staff of civilian and volunteer personnel, the NRP provide a variety of services in addition to conservation and boating law enforcement duties throughout the State of Maryland. These services include homeland security, search and rescue, emergency medical services, education, information and communications services on a round the clock basis. NRP is the only police force aside from the Maryland State Police that has statewide jurisdiction.

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 a 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