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Man Caught Smuggling Thousands Of Pounds Of Undersized Oysters

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McCorkel Meghan 370x278 (2) Meghan McCorkell
Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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EASTON, Md. (WJZ) — Police in Maryland make one of the biggest oyster busts in years. Natural Resources officers seize thousands of pounds of undersized oysters being smuggled out of state.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the bust.

Investigators say it all started with a tip about someone poaching a massive amount of oysters from the bay.

Police painstakingly measure thousands of illegal oysters found in one of the largest busts ever.

“I’ve been working on the job for 26 years and it is the largest oyster seizure that I’ve seen,” said Lt. Arthur Windemuth, DNR Police.

Investigators pulled over a tractor-trailer from Coward Seafood along Route 50 in Easton. When they inspected it, they found 188 bushels. Seventeen officers worked for seven hours to measure each oyster inside the truck.

“Out of those 188 bushels, 187 did not comply with Maryland cull law,” said Windemuth.

The driver, 66-year-old Rhoderick Newman, now faces multiple poaching charges.

The Chesapeake Bay is facing a serious oyster shortage–with numbers at just one percent of historic levels.

One of the biggest reasons for the shortage is overharvesting by poachers. It’s been going on for a long time.

“In 1868, the Natural Resources Police were created specifically to combat the oyster wars,” said Major Jerry Kirkwood, DNR Police.

DNR Police are now using a sophisticated network of cameras and radar units to track illegal harvesters. This as the state attempts to replenish the oyster population.

Daily limits have been set for oystermen. Officials say this latest haul is equal to the daily limit of 16 oystermen, totaling more than $8,000.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Officials say Newman could potentially face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

The undersized oysters were returned to an Eastern Shore sanctuary.

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