Last week, Maryland Natural Resources Police charged the Lotte Plaza Market in Germantown with selling three bushels of egg-bearing female blue crabs — known as sponge crags — in violation of Maryland’s conservation laws.
After receiving a tip, Maryland Natural Resources Police officers conducted an inspection of the market June 5. According to Natural Resources Police, store employees told police the crabs came from North Carolina, but were unable to produce a bill of lading. Lotte Plaza market was cited on June 18 by state Natural Resource Police.
Sponge crabs can be legally imported from other states between May 11 and July 20 this year, but proof of their origin is necessary. The dates which female crabs can be imported from other states is set each year by the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Dealers and crab processing plants must have a bill of sale or lading from the jurisdiction of origin and may not import the crabs at any other time of the year.
Officers cited the company for the unlawful importation of egg-bearing female crabs. The citation can carry a penalty of $650. The three bushels of crabs were seized and donated to a food center in Rockville, according to police.
It is always illegal to harvest female egg-bearing (sponge) crab or any female crabs in Maryland waters.