CONTACT:
Lt. John Wimsatt: 603-868-1095
CO William J. Boudreau: 603-271-3361
Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211
July 30, 2008     


Two Seacoast N.H. Men Convicted of Illegal Clamming Activity

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers have successfully completed an investigation in conjunction with Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers and the National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement that focused on numerous unlawful clamming activities of Charles R. Eaton III of Seabrook and Gregory Lee Egnew of Portsmouth.  The shellfish violations ranged from digging shellfish without a license to digging shellfish during a red tide closure, clamming during the closed season, and possession of an overlimit of soft shell clams. 

At an appearance in Hampton District Court on July 28, 2008, Charles Eaton III plead guilty and was convicted of Digging Clams Without a Valid License, Taking Clams During the Closed Season, Taking Clams from a Conditionally Restricted Area, Possessing an Overlimit of Clams, Insufficient Personal Flotation Devices, and Operating an Unregistered Boat.  Eaton was fined a total of $489.60. Gregory Egnew was convicted of Digging Clams Without a Valid License, Taking Clams During the Closed Season, Taking Clams from a Conditionally Restricted Area, and Possessing an Overlimit of Clams; he was fined $312. Both men had their privilege to dig clams in New Hampshire suspended for one year. 

The pair also faces similar charges in Massachusetts filed by the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

The National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement provided assistance and funding through a Joint Enforcement Agreement with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.  The Department of Environmental Services, Shellfish Program also provided assistance and logistical support.

The men's actions were not only illegal, but posed a serious health risk for themselves and anyone else eating the clams they harvested. During the period of the arrest (June 21, 2008), the coastal waters of New Hampshire were experiencing a "red tide" outbreak.  Red tide, the common name of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning or PSP, comes from a "bloom" of naturally occurring marine algae that produce a potent neurotoxin.  During an outbreak, the toxin accumulates in filter-feeding shellfish such as clam and mussels.  Symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning include tingling, burning, numbness, drowsiness, incoherent speech, and respiratory paralysis. Symptoms typically occur within two hours of consumption, and can last a few days in non-lethal cases. Severe cases can result in death by respiratory arrest within 24 hours of consumption, but with prompt medical attention, survivors typically make a full recovery.

"Red Tide" Shellfish Closures are still in effect for certain areas. For up-to-date information on shellfish harvesting closures, call N.H. Fish and Game's "Clam Flat Hotline" at 1-800-43-CLAMS or visit the Fish and Game website at www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Fishing/clam_flat_status.htm.

Anyone having information concerning wildlife violations is encouraged to contact Fish and Game's Operation Game Thief 24-hour hotline at 1-800-344-4262.  A caller may remain completely anonymous and cash rewards are offered for information leading to the arrest of violators.  New for 2008, you can now report violations online by logging on to www.fishnh.com and clicking on the yellow Operation Game Thief icon in the lower left-hand menu. For more on how to report fish and wildlife violations through Operation Game Thief, visit www.wildnh.com/OGT.

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