Three Patchogue residents, David J. Hartmann jr., Luigi A. Moscardino, and Paul E. Sharkey II, are facing felony charges after getting busted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs). After a nighttime surveillance, the ECOs found the three men harvesting 1,500 horseshoe crabs.
"Across the entire eastern seaboard, there is growing concern about the impact declining horseshoe crab populations can have on migratory birds such as the red knot," Regional Director Peter A. Scully said. "Those who violate the law should be aware that DEC's Environmental Conservation Officers are skilled law enforcement professionals who will take swift action to protect the environment and vulnerable wildlife populations."
At 9 p.m. on June 2, the ECOs were on a designated horseshoe crab detail on the Great South Bay in Brookhaven when they stopped Moscardino’s 1998 Carolina Skiff after noticing he’d been navigating without lights. Inside were 333 horseshoe crabs with all but five being illegal. Under New York State salt water fishing regulations you’re allowed up to five horseshoe crabs a day in your possession.
During Moscardino’s processing, another boat without navigation lights was spotted by the ECO’s using night-vision binoculars. On it were Hartmann Jr and Sharkey. Of the three arrested, only Sharkey had a DEC permit for harvesting horseshoe crabs. He also had a Foodfish & Crustacea Dealer/Shipment permit.
The ECO’s counted for two hours and found the three in possession of 1,107 horseshoe crabs. Hartmann was able to keep five and Sharkey kept 30, the legal commercial limit. The horseshoe crabs were trucked and released back in to the Great South Bay.
Sharkey, Hartmann Jr., and Moscardino are charged with Possession of Over Limit Horseshoe Crabs, an E Felony up to four years in prison or a $5,000 fine. Moscardino and Sharkey were charged with Failure to Display Navigation Lights and Operating an Improperly Numbered Vessel. Hartmann Jr. and Moscardino were charged with Possession Commercial Limit of Horseshoe Crabs without a permit.
The DEC urges anyone who suspects illegal activities to call their offices during business hours at (631) 444-0250, and 1-877-457-5680 or 1-800-TIPP-DEC at all other times.