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DNR, Attorney General, District Court Join Forces to Address Natural Resources Violations in Lower Eastern Shore Counties

Natural resources cases to be heard each Friday under expansion of program that has seen success in Anne Arundel County

Annapolis, Md. (August 15, 2011) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Office of the Attorney General and the District Court of Maryland have expanded a successful program highlighting natural resources cases to the lower Eastern Shore. The program, which began as a pilot in Anne Arundel County, sets aside specific days to try only cases dealing with natural resources violations.


“Our natural resources belong to everyone and we must all work together to ensure that they are protected,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “Those who violate the public trust must be prosecuted in an efficient manner to the full extent of the law and this program is an important mechanism in this effort.”


Under the program, natural resources cases including fishing, hunting, boating and tree expert violations from Worcester, Dorchester, Wicomico and Somerset Counties will be heard in the county where the case originated, on a specific day each month, and will be procecuted by a designated State's Attorney from that county. For example all Worcester County cases will be heard on Friday at 1 p.m. at the Snow Hill courthouse in Worcester County.


The Anne Arundel County program, which has been in effect since January 2010, takes place on the third Friday of each month at the Maryland District Court.


In May 2011, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law legislation to protect Maryland’s fisheries and encourage shellfish aquaculture. As part of an overall focus on enforcement efforts to better protect Maryland’s public fishery resources DNR also established a tougher penalty system for commercial fishing violations. Previously, a waterman had to receive multiple convictions before the Department could impose a suspension; the new system allows the agency to impose suspensions for a single conviction. Additionally, the State increased the penalty for engaging in commercial fishing with a suspended license, a revoked license or without a license, by establishing a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for up to one year. To see other laws and penalties click here.


“The program’s expansion supports DNR’s plan to step up enforcement of fishery poaching violations, as recommended by the Maryland State Task Force of Fishery Management,” said DNR Deputy Secretary Joe Gill. “DNR will work with other counties to expand the program if we see continued success.”


   August 15, 2011

Contact: Sgt. A.A. Windemuth
410-260-8003 office | 410-713-8449 cell
awindemuth@dnr.state.md.us

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 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 www.dnr.maryland.gov