Where are all of the oysters? Photo: BeautifulRust, Flickr
In Maryland, there is the added concern that poachers are primarily bagging wild Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica), which are severely depleted. "We are at less than one percent of our historic population in the Chesapeake Bay right now," says Mike Naylor, shellfish program director, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Police use night-vision technology to search for criminals who are known to mark oyster beds with milk-jugs and glow sticks easing their return after dark. But poachers are upping the technology to escape being caught. "They're using radar, cell phones and spotters. They know where our police boats are tied, and they get a call when our boats leave the dock. They're going to extreme measures," says Naylor.