DNR Police charge two St. Mary’s residents in separate incidents

A St. Mary’s County man has been charged with illegally selling oysters online and failing to pay the state fee assessed to all commercial harvesting operations.

Matthew Wayne Morgan, 36, of Mechanicsville, received citations Nov. 22 after an online investigation turned up ads on social media and websites offering oysters for sale. Under state law, an unlicensed person is allowed to harvest one bushel of oysters a day for personal consumption and may not list them for sale.

Morgan is scheduled to appear in St. Mary’s County District Court Feb. 18 on charges of failing to obtain a Tidal Fishing License and failing to pay the state oyster surcharge. Each violation carries a maximum fine of $1,000.

A waterman was charged with illegally harvesting oysters and ordered to return them to the area on the St. Mary’s River where they were removed.

Devin Ellis Benoit, 20, of Piney Point, was stopped by officers on routine patrol Nov. 17 as he returned to the dock after power dredging a bar. None of the 12 bushels aboard his vessel had been tagged, as required by law.

Officers measured two bushels and found they contained 15 and 21 percent undersized oysters, well above the 5 percent tolerance allowed under state law. Benoit was ordered to return to the oyster bar to measure the rest of his harvest and put the undersized oysters back in the water.

Benoit was charged with two counts of possessing unmeasured and undersized oysters and one count of failing to tag his oysters before leaving the bar. Each charge carries a maximum fine of $1,000. He is scheduled to appear in St. Mary’s County District Court Feb. 1.


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