Md. NRP Bust Illegal Boat Charters - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Md. NRP Bust Illegal Boat Charters

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ANNAPOLIS, Md.- Maryland Natural Resources Police officers last Wednesday charged a Grasonville man with operating an illegal fishing service as part of a continuing state and federal investigation into charter boats on Kent Island.

DNR said that last month, undercover officers paid Andrew Wright Jr., 76, captain of the boat, Lisa Ann, for a fishing trip originating at Kent Narrows. After an investigation, Wright was charged with operating as an unlicensed commercial fishing guide, failing to obtain federal licenses to operate a commercial vessel, failing to possess a license while charter fishing, and using a Maryland Consolidated Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Boat License on a vessel used to take people fishing. Federal charges are being pursued.

Head boats, also known as party boats, charge a per-person fee compared to other types of charters that involve renting an entire boat.

Earlier this month in a joint NRP and Coast Guard operation, two Kent Narrows head boat captains - Tyrone Antone Meredith, 53, of Stevensville, and Herlen Vernon Lynch, 63, of Dover, Del. - were charged with operating passenger vessels without required safety equipment and failing to have the appropriate licenses.

A third boat, the Fishing Lady, was removed from service after it was found to have numerous safety violations and was taking on passengers despite an order earlier this year from the Coast Guard not to do so.

Col. George F. Johnson IV, NRP superintendent, said these cases serve as a reminder that hiring an unlicensed captain or uninspected boat can have serious safety consequences.

“Our officers and the Coast Guard work together to ensure that your trip is smooth sailing and the only surprises you encounter are the big fish you reel in,” Johnson said. “Illegal charter operations have a negative financial impact on honest charter and head boat captains, who have taken the necessary steps to ensure they are in Coast Guard compliance.”

Wright, Meredith and Lynch are scheduled to appear in Queen Anne District Court on Oct. 29. If found guilty of all charges, each man could be fined as much as $4,000.

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