Man pleads guilty to overharvesting Chesapeake blue crabs

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Tangier man faces up to five years in prison for exceeding the maximum harvest limits for Chesapeake Blue Crabs.

Between March 20, 2023 and April 20, 2023, James Warren Eskridge, 45, overharvested blue crabs from Virginia waters and sold them in Maryland.

During the time of the offense, Virginia law prohibited licensed commercial crabbers from harvesting more than 27 bushels of blue crab per day, regardless of the number of licenses crabbers present on a single vessel.

On three separate occasions law enforcement observed Eskridge offload more than double the Virginia harvest limit.

Court show document show that on April 11, 2023, Virginia Marine Police watched as Eskridge and his mates dropped off 60 bushels of blue crabs in Crisfield, Maryland. That same day, Eskridge and his mates returned to Crisfield and offloaded 56 bushels. Two days later, they offloaded an additional 58 barrels in Crisfield.

Initially, Eskridge told investigators he purchased the additional crabs from a “buy boat” to sell on shore, however, the 45-year-old man later admitted he harvested all of the crabs.

Eskridge pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly transporting and selling blue crab in interstate commerce between Virginia and Maryland in violation of Virginia law and one count of knowingly making and submitting a false record.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 17.

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