Five Queen Anne's County watermen have been charged with illegally taking 51 bushels of oysters from a protected area near the mouth of the Wicomico River in Tangier Sound, Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials said.
Acting on a tip, Natural Resources Police officers used radar and cameras to track several boats tonging in the Evans Oyster Harvest Reserve Area, they said.
The waterman charged are: Ryan Daniel Baxter, 20, of Queen Anne; Benjamin Leonard Reihl, 26, of Rock Hall; Adam Vincent Reihl, 21, of Church Hill; Harvey Thomas Bowers, 49, of Chestertown, and George Albert Lee, 45, of Dominion.
The oysters were seized and returned to the Evans harvest reserve, the DNR said.
The DNR sets aside reserve areas for special management, and nine of them were scheduled to open for harvest on March 7 although by request of the Somerset County Oyster Committee, Evans Bar was delayed until March 24.
"These watermen apparently chose not to wait," said Col. George F. Johnson IV, the NRP superintendent. "Watermen who jump the gun deprive hard-working, honest watermen a chance to harvest."