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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3/27/03

Contact: Jack Kaskey
609-984-1795

DEP Confiscates Boat, Suspends Permit of Clammer
The clammer was hiding clams he harvested from restricted waters

(03/37) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife has charged an Ocean County man with possession of nearly 700 clams from polluted waters that were likely destined for market.

The DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife immediately suspended the clamming permit of Gary D. Bankes, 33, of Brick Township for one year. The DEP also issued summonses to confiscate Bankes' harvesting gear, his boat and his motor.

Bankes harvested hard clams Saturday from special-restricted waters in the Manasquan River, selling a portion of his clams to a depuration plant, but keeping the remainder for himself.

When a Fish and Wildlife marine enforcement officer inspect Bankes' boat to make sure he had unloaded his entire harvest, the officer found 697 clams hidden in a cold box and in baskets covered with clothing.

"These untreated clams were destined for market, where they would have put the health of unsuspecting consumers at risk," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "We will not tolerate the abuse of the depuration program, which allows our baymen to harvest and safely market clams from restricted waters."

Special restricted waters often have high levels of fecal coliform, so clams from these areas must be treated at a depuration plant to remove any bacterial contamination before being sold to the public.

Under a pending law Gov. James E. McGreevey signed Jan. 27, penalties for improper harvest of shellfish will double or triple, depending on the offense. Because this is Bankes fourth offense, he would be facing a 10-year permit suspension if the law were in effect now.

 

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