BEAUFORT, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) on Friday announced that multiple individuals and businesses are being charged after a months-long investigation revealed the “illegal commercial harvest and sale of flounder and other saltwater finfish species.”
James Wooten (33) of Bluffton, Dawson Loper (21) of Bluffton, and David Festerman (32) of Griffen, GA are each facing multiple charges for illegally harvesting and selling flounder, tripletail, sheepshead, and red drum. 42 fish were seized during the arrest.
Wooten is facing “21 counts of harvesting undersize flounder, 21 counts of harvesting over the limit of flounder, one count of harvesting undersized tripletail, nine counts of selling fish with no commercial wholesale dealer’s license, two counts of having no commercial fishing license, as well as a boating equipment-related charge, and two charges of driving under suspension.”
Loper was charged with “six counts of undersized flounder, one count each of over the limit of flounder and undersized tripletail, as well as one count each of improper display of commercial decal on a boat, no outboard motor decal, and insufficient PFDs onboard.”
Festerman is facing four charges of having undersized flounder and one count of having no saltwater fishing license.
Restaurants buying the fish were also implicated.
Chef Eric Seaglund at Hudson’s Seafood House in Hilton Head “was charged with one count of unlawful purchase of a saltwater fishery product, and one count each of possessing undersized tripletail and undersized flounder.”
Earl Nightingale Jr., owner of ELA’s on the Water in Hilton Head, is facing to charges of unlawful purchase of saltwater fisheries products.
The owner of the Maiz Taqueria food truck in Bluffton, Isaac Jimenez, “was cited for one count each of unlawful purchase of saltwater fisheries product, having no proper bill of lading, and having no wholesale dealer’s license.”