$10,000 fine imposed in sale of small crabs


October 03, 2007|By a Sun reporter

The owner of a Crisfield company pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to selling undersized Chesapeake Bay crabs, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Isabel Dryden, who owns N.R. Dryden and Co., admitted to a felony violation of the Lacey Act, which "prohibits the interstate sale of fish knowingly taken or possessed in violation of state law," according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said federal agents received information that crabbers from Tangier Island, Va., were selling Chesapeake Bay soft-shell crabs to dealers in Crisfield. Many of the crabs were smaller than the 3 1/2 -inch minimum set by Maryland law, they alleged.

Federal and state officers posing as representatives of a West Virginia business bought a total 240 dozen crabs from Dryden over three occasions. About 80 percent were undersized, and a subsequent search of the company's facility turned up 648 dozen undersized soft-shells, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis fined Dryden $10,000 and ordered her to forfeit the undersized crabs that had been seized.

The judge ordered Dryden to allow increased access to her facility by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police, to begin training programs for employees and to provide notice to her suppliers about size limits.

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