Agents cite two Mississippi residents for oyster violations

Published 9:47 am Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited two Mississippi residents for alleged commercial oyster violations.

Agents cited Aaron L. Tillman, 45, of Long Beach, Miss., for violating the sanitation code for oysters on Jan. 20.  Agents also cited Tillman on Jan. 26 for violate vessel monitoring system (VMS) regulations, taking commercial fish without a commercial gear license and fail to display proper boat number on the vessel.

Agents cited Jennifer Jenkins, 46, of Pass Christian, Miss., on March 9 for failing to maintain public records and failing to report commercial fisheries data.

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Agents received a complaint that a vessel was actively harvesting oysters without the required suspended awning.  Agents responded to the tip and found Tillman in West Karako Bay in St. Bernard Parish on Jan. 20 operating a vessel harvesting oysters without a suspended awning.  Agents cited Tillman for a sanitation code violation and seized 87 sacks of oysters and returned them to the water.  Agents also issued Tillman a warning for not having a properly working VMS.

Any operator of a vessel that possesses an out of state oyster landing permit, must have an operable VMS unit installed on board.

Agents again observed Tillman in West Karako Bay on Jan. 26 actively harvesting oysters.  Agents performed another compliance check and found that Tillman’s VMS was not working and that he did not possess a scraper gear license.  Agents seized 64 sacks of oysters and returned them to the water.

During the investigation, Tillman said he offloads his oysters to Cajun Shellfish LLC located in Mississippi.  Agents were able to identify 1,475 sacks of oysters that were offloaded at Cajun Shellfish in 2020 without the proper trip tickets. Cajun Shellfish also failed to report four months of commercial fisheries data to LDWF in 2020.

Violating VMS regulations carries a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Failing to maintain records, failing to complete trip tickets and taking oysters without a required commercial gear license brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for each offense.  Violating the sanitation code carries up to a $25 fine and 10 days in jail.

Agents participating in the case are Corporal Michael Marques, Sgt. Austin Arteaga, Corporal Blaine Wagner, Corporal Brett Nabors and Agent Shea Schexnaydre.