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2 fishermen charged with illegal oyster harvest

Two Islip men were ticketed this week for illegally taking oysters from the Nissequogue River - a practice that could sicken people who ate the uncertified shellfish.

One of the two commercial fishermen charged, Gary Beaulieu, was a repeat offender who had been barred for five years from applying for a shellfish permit, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said.

The river has been closed to shellfish harvesting for at least 30 years because pollution from the surrounding watershed has led to what the DEC calls "exceptionally high levels of bacteria" in oysters there. The DEC steps up river enforcement patrols during the holidays, when demand for shellfish is high, said Capt. Dorothy Thumm of the DEC's marine enforcement unit.

She said officers on patrol saw Raphael Urbina, 26, and Beaulieu, 44, harvesting undersized oysters off Riviera Drive in San Remo about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Only Urbina had a valid shellfish permit, Thumm said.

Both were charged with taking shellfish from uncertified waters and possession of undersized oysters. Urbina was charged with failing to have a log book and maintain shellfish records; Beaulieu was charged with harvesting shellfish with no permit. Neither could be reached. The more serious charges, lack of a permit and fishing in uncertified waters, carry a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a year in jail.

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