Licenses suspended after egg removal

AUGUSTA — The commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources has suspended the lobster licenses of two men for removing the eggs from female lobsters. The violation is a Class D crime, which, in addition to license suspension, is punishable by up to a year in jail and fines in excess of $1,000.

The licenses of Dexter Bray Jr., 36, of Stonington and Philip Poland, 42, of Cushing have been suspended for six years as a result of separate investigations conducted earlier this year by the Maine Marine Patrol.

The Bray investigation, led by Officer Rustin Ames, resulted in charges of removing the eggs of two female lobsters, for which Bray is facing fines of up to $1,600 and as much as a year in prison, in addition to the license suspension.

The crime came to light by an anonymous complaint received in the spring that Bray was “scrubbing” lobsters, the act of artificially removing eggs from the underside of a female lobster’s tail.

Ames followed up on the complaint and began an investigation that involved Specialist Sean Dow. The investigation revealed that Bray had landed and attempted to sell two egg-bearing female lobsters at a lobster co-op in Stonington.

The Poland investigation, led by Officer Brandon Bezio, resulted in charges of removing eggs from three female lobsters, for which Poland faces up to a year in prison and fines of up to $1,900, in addition to his license suspension.

This investigation also began with an anonymous complaint received during the summer. Bezio followed up on the complaint and, with the help of Specialist Officer Matthew Wyman, and Specialist Corrie Robert, determined that Poland had scrubbed the eggs from three lobsters in his possession.

“Scrubbing lobsters is one of the most serious violations of marine resource laws we see,” said Col. Jon Cornish. “Some females can carry 100,000 eggs. By removing the eggs to make a short-term monetary gain, criminals deny future generations of fishermen the opportunity those eggs represent. Just as important, they undermine the work law abiding harvesters do every day to sustain this important resource.”

“I’m extremely proud of the thorough investigation conducted by the officers involved in these cases,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “These are very difficult cases to make, and the officers did an outstanding job bring this behavior to an end.”

Bray, who fished in Lobster Management Zone C, was notified in August that his license would be permanently revoked. After a length-of-suspension hearing on Nov. 2, his suspension was reduced to six years, allowing him to regain his license on May 19, 2022.

Poland, who fished in Zone D, was notified of that his license would be permanently revoked in August. However, after a length-of-suspension hearing on Nov. 15, his penalty also was reduced to a six-year suspension, allowing him to regain his license on July 8, 2022.

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