Several employees of Nelson Seafood in St. Mary's County were charged with illegal oyster practices. Facebook photo.

Southern Md. Seafood Sellers Face 100 Charges of Illegal Oyster Activity

Six employees at a St. Mary’s County seafood business face dozens of charges, accused of violating a number of commercial oyster laws.

Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) say the six seafood workers engaged in illegal practices at Nelson Seafood in Hollywood, Md.

After a tip from the public, NRP began an investigation and conducted surveillance of Nelson Seafood throughout March 2022. During the investigation NRP says, “Officers observed three individuals participating in illegal commercial oystering-related activities, including selling and harvesting while on suspended and revoked licenses.”

NRP also reports Nelson Seafood was engaging in false oyster reporting, false tagging, and storing oysters improperly, in an unlicensed cooler facility. The six employees charged were Caleb Hancock, 20; Andrew Nelson, 26; Robert Nelson Jr., 39; James Nelson, 45; Tyler Nelson, 19; and Melanie Wheeler, 43.

Police issued a total of more than 100 charges against them in April 2022, including many health department violations for storage and facility licensing. Proper storage and refrigeration of oysters is essential because they are often eaten raw, and the risk of illness through bacteria can be high.

If they are convicted, the seafood workers face fines from $350 to $25,000 and up to one year in jail.

-Meg Walburn Viviano