Tangier Island man pleads guilty to over harvesting oysters

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Tangier Island man could face up to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to over harvesting oysters.

The U.S. Attorneys Office said in a news release 43-year-old Gregory Wheatley Parks Jr. pleaded guilty on April 25 to violating the Lacey Act by harvesting oysters from the Chesapeake Bay in excess of Virginia limits and taking them to Maryland for sale.

Parks harvested oysters on the Tangier-based fishing vessel F/V Melissa Hope, and was aware Virginia has strict limits on the number of oyster bushels that can be harvested a day.

On numerous occasions in 2015, Parks harvested at least 38 bushels above the limit.

Court records indicate Parks falsely reported the number of oysters he harvested to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission several times.

Parks has a long history of wildlife violations related to oyster harvesting dating back to 2008. He has been previously cited for possessing oysters over the legal limits and taking oysters from polluted grounds.

Parks is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 22.

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