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August 13, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360) 902-2256

Undercover WDFW probe nets Bellingham couple for poaching

BELLINGHAM -- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers have arrested a man and a woman on an assortment of felonies and misdemeanors for allegedly harvesting and selling crabs and clams illegally.

Tuesday's arrests came as the result of a four-month undercover investigation by WDFW officers. The couple allegedly offered their illegal products through newspaper advertisements and signs directing customers to their house.

The suspects are John J. Achten, 26, and his wife, Emily, 19.

Charges against the couple are:

  • Felony unlawful sale of shellfish
  • Felony intentional commercial fishing in closed areas
  • Fishing for Dungeness crab without a permit (gross misdemeanor)
  • Possession of undersized crabs (gross misdemeanor)
  • Unlawful possession and sale of uncertified shellfish (190 pounds of clams, a gross misdemeanor)
  • Unlawful commercial harvest of clams without a permit
  • Unlawful sale of foodfish or shellfish
Officers said the estimated retail value of 1,618 crabs harvested and sold illegally was $22,700. The value of the clams sold illegally was $701.

The suspects allegedly caught the crabs with illegal equipment at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal and from a boat in Chuckanut Bay.

A pick-up truck and 13-foot boat and trailer allegedly used in the illegal fishing were seized.