The Maryland Natural Resources Police were conducting surveillance in St. Mary’s County when they observed John Vallandingham, 67, sell six bushels of oysters from his property. In the previous weeks, police tracked oysters harvested from the Wicomico River in St. Mary’s County to a detached garage belonging to Mr. Vallandingham.
During their investigation, they learned that the oysters were stored in improper containers within the garage for several days, with daily temperatures exceeding 50 degrees. The inadequate storage of the oysters and the unseasonably high temperatures represented a public health risk.
According to police, the oysters were being purchased to serve at a charity event.
Additionally, Vallandingham did not possess a commercial tidal fish license or any seafood dealer licenses. Therefore, officers seized the oysters before being consumed by the general public and charged Vallandingham.
Vallandingham was charged with failure to obtain a tidal fish license for commercial activity, failure to pay the oyster surcharge, engaging in an activity requiring a license or authorization without having a license or authorization, and catching oysters for commercial purposes without a license.
He faces up to $28,000 in fines and one year in jail if convicted.