Three Suffolk men were arraigned Wednesday in First District Court in Nassau on charges of illegally fishing for shellfish out of the Atlantic Ocean, authorities said.
Joseph Ferraro, 27, of Brentwood, Rory Engels, 28, of Islip, and Jason Micolo, 28, of Shirley, are charged with taking, possessing, selling and otherwise trafficking in baby surf clams for use as food, a felony, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a news release.
State Department of Environmental Conservation police said officers observed the men unloading baby surf clams off boats in Oceanside on March 11 and 12. Their catch was taken from Moriches Inlet in the Town of Brookhaven, and brought to Oceanside, officials said, adding that the cages full of baby clams were to be sold for $8,000.
Engels and Micolo also face a misdemeanor charge of lacking a digger permit and Ferraro was charged with a violation for allegedly failing to keep a harvest record log, Rice said. They were all released on their own recognizance and are due back in court June 11.
Neither they nor their attorneys could be reached for comment.
"Illegal fishing doesn't just negatively impact the environment -- it also jeopardizes a multimillion-dollar industry that supports communities throughout Long Island," Rice said. "The livelihood of the vast majority of fishermen shouldn't be subject to the greed of a few."