D.C. seafood wholesaler charged in rockfish scheme
The federal crackdown against the black market fish trade continues.
Federal authorities announced Tuesday that Ocean Pro Ltd., a D.C. fish wholesaler, and two of its employees were charged with buying illegally harvested rockfish.
The company, along with fish buyers Timothy Lydon, of Bethesda, and Benjamin Clough, of Graysonville, face charges under the federal Lacey Act, which bans buying, selling or transporting illegally harvested wildlife.
Federal prosecutors allege that between 1995 and 2007, the company bought rockfish, also known as striped bass, that had been illegally caught in the Potomac River.
Each spring, authorities said, striped bass enter the river to spawn and then return to the Atlantic. The fish can live up to 30 years, and a thriving Atlantic costal population is dependent on older, larger females to reproduce.
To guard against overfishing, watermen must follow strict quotas and are required to accurately record the number and weight of the fish they catch, prosecutors said. States set minimum and maximum size limits to protect young fish as well as very large fish that will spawn new generations.
For several years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland Natural Resources Police and the Virginia Marine Police have worked together to stop illegal harvesting. Task force members went undercover to buy and sell the fish, and secretly watched commercial fishermen.
-- Maria Glod
December 8, 2009; 1:27 PM ET
Categories: Maria Glod , Maryland , The District , The Region
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