Two Talbot County watermen have been convicted of poaching and selling almost $500,000 worth of striped bass over four years.
The two men, Michael D. Hayden Jr. and William J. Lednum of Talbot County, have been banned for life from the fishery they poached, a suspension of all commercial fishing activity for a year and a four-year probationary period in all other fisheries.
In 2015, the men were sentenced to prison time and $40,000 fines. The two are responsible for $498,000 in court-ordered restitution to the state of Maryland for their illegal fishing.
The two men were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2013 and entered into plea agreements, where they admitted to using illegally weighted or anchored nets, leaving nets in the water overnight and setting nets during times when the commercial season for striped bass gill-netting season was closed.
In a statement, Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said the action to ban the two men, “though rare, was taken only after all the evidence was fully considered and after the individuals admitted fault.”
“We hope this sends a strong signal to poachers that the state is serious about protecting the fishery,” he said.