On Friday, April 9, 2009, the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) charged two Talbot County men with multiple criminal and natural resource violations as a result of an investigation of theft of fish from commercial fishing nets in the Wye River.
The investigation started March 9, when NRP received an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen reporting possible illegal fishing activity in the area of Pickering Creek Drive near Wye Island. NRP had also received a report from a commercial waterman that several of his fyke nets located in the Wye River had been cut and emptied.
A fyke net is a net used for the commercial harvest of fish. It consists of cylindrical or cone-shaped netting bags mounted on rings or other rigid structures. It has wings or leaders which guide the fish towards the entrance of the bags. Fyke nets are fixed on the bottom by anchors, ballast or stakes.
Officers responding to the Pickering Creek Drive location observed William Christopher Bradley, 21, of St. Michaels and Daniel Wesley Andrews, 30, of Wittman walking around a pickup truck that was parked at the location. The truck’s bed was full of bushel baskets containing white perch. Officers observed an all-terrain utility vehicle parked in an open barn next to the truck as they approached the two men. The bed of that vehicle was also loaded with bushel baskets of white perch. Bradley and Andrews are not commercial watermen.
During the incident, NRP seized as evidence 8,421 white perch measuring on average of four inches in length; five bushels of white perch measuring over eight inches in length; 27 sunfish; six alewife, a species of herring; four striped bass; three channel catfish; and four boxes of drift gill nets.
Bradley and Andrews were each charged by NRP with the following violations:
One count of possession of white perch measuring less than eight inches in length caught other than hook and line
One count of possession of channel catfish measuring less than 10 inches in length
One count of taking and or possessing striped bass during closed season
One count of Failure to obtain a commercial tidal fishing license
5 counts removing fish from nets or gear of another
4 counts of failure to carry required equipment for commercial purposes as set fourth by the Federal Boat Act/Federal Boat Safety Act
One count of setting or fishing drift gill net with the a stretched mesh size less than three and one eighth inches during the period of January 1 through March 15
One count of failure to display a commercial tidal fishing license number on vessel or other equipment
5 counts of malicious destruction of property
5 counts of theft less than $500 in value
One count of theft scheme less than $500 in value
A court date of May 14,2009 has been scheduled for both men in Talbot County District Court.