113-208. Protection of private shellfish rights.

(a) It is unlawful for any person, other than the holder of private shellfish rights, to take or attempt to take shellfish from any privately leased, franchised, or deeded shellfish bottom area without written authorization of the holder and with actual knowledge it is a private shellfish bottom area. Actual knowledge will be presumed when the shellfish are taken or attempted to be taken:

(1) From within the confines of posted boundaries of the area as identified by signs, whether the whole or any part of the area is posted, or

(2) When the area has been regularly posted and identified and the person knew the area to be the subject of private shellfish rights.

A violation of this section shall constitute a Class A1 misdemeanor, which may include a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000). The written authorization shall include the lease number or deed reference, name and address of authorized person, date of issuance, and date of expiration, and it must be signed by the holder of the private shellfish right. Identification signs shall include the lease number or deed reference and the name of the holder.

(b) The prosecutor shall dismiss any case brought for a violation of this section if the defendant produces a notarized written authorization in conformance with subsection (a) which states that the defendant had permission to take oysters or clams from the leased area at the time of the alleged violation; except the prosecutor may refuse to dismiss the case if he has reason to believe that the written authorization is fraudulent. (1979, c. 537; 1987, c. 463; 1989, c. 281, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, s. 842; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1998-225, s. 3.7.)