Falmouth Selectmen Uphold Suspension of Commercial Shellfishing License

FALMOUTH – The six-month suspension of a commercial shellfish license has been upheld by Falmouth selectmen.

Richard Baker, a commercial shellfisherman, had his license suspended for six months by the town for commercial shellfishing at Great Pond on Sunday, March 3.

The town prohibits commercial shellfishing at Great Pond on Sundays.

Baker attempted to have the town reduces his six-month suspension to 60 days. He says in over 40 years of shellfishing, this has been his first infraction.

“I’m not saying I didn’t do anything wrong, I’m just saying that due to the nature of the crime that I shouldn’t have lost my license for the long of a period of time. I’ve lost it for 60 days. I feel like that was enough punishment for the crime,” Baker said to selectmen.

“The only reason why I did it was because of the weather. It was a costly mistake and a bad judgement call.”

Selectmen unanimously upheld Baker’s six-month suspension, despite Baker’s requests and admission to the violations.

Environmental Police Officer Scott Opie says the weather is not a valid reason for Baker to have been working in the pond, while Shellfish Constable Charles Martinsen III added that Baker’s violations also included his possession of seed shellfish and untagged shellfish. In total, Baker was caught with 404 quahogs, 106 seed shellfish and 18 larger quahogs.

“On March 3, which was a Sunday, our department received an anonymous phone call that there was an individual in the area of Belmar and was commercially shellfishing. This individual was placed under surveillance for a while when they fished,” Martinsen informed selectmen.

“The individual operating the boat was identified as Richard Baker, who is here with us this evening. Mr. Baker was the only person on board the boat at this time. On shore, an administrative inspection was conducted of the catch Mr. Baker had.

There were four batches of shellfish, and in those batches of shellfish the first batch had 496 quahogs which were of legal size, the second batch had 404 quahogs, the third batch had 18 larger quahogs and the last batch was 106 seed.”

Despite his requests, selectmen are not permitted to reduce the suspension below the six-month timeframe, according to Town Counsel Frank Duffy. Duffy informed selectmen that the sentence imposed on Baker is the minimum punishment relative to the offense and cannot be reduced.

Baker can request the town to reinstate his license on September 4.

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center 

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