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Keeping a watchful eye on the oystermen

Upwards of 100 workboats swarmed the Area 1 oyster beds in the Rappahannock River in the early hours of Oct. 9, and the Virginia Marine Patrol was there with them, making sure oystermen didn’t run afoul of regulations.

Capt. Jamie Green, himself a former waterman and a self-described “Guinea boy, born and bred,” piloted a 28’ Contender among the swirling, busy boats as 1st Sgt. Chris Miller of Mathews, kept an eye out for infractions.

Watermen used hand scrapes to dredge bushel after bushel of large oysters from the bottom. In boat after boat, a 22-inch scrape was dropped overboard, dragged along the bottom, and pulled back up full of oysters. The oysters were dumped onto a table and the crew immediately began sorting the catch as the scrape returned to the bottom for another lick.

Miller pointed out that all the boats were rigged on the starboard side, with the vessels continually pulling to the right as they made their dredges. A boat that was rigged to the...

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