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December 15, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, 360-902-2256

Inspection nets fisher with huge haul of illegal crabs

ILWACO -- An Oregon crabber was arrested Saturday when Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers discovered approximately 4,500 undersized crabs on his vessel.

The crab fisher was unloading his boat at an Ilwaco fish cannery when the undersized crabs were found in a routine inspection by the officers.

The fisher was charged with one gross misdemeanor penalty that carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and one year in jail, according to WDFW's Sgt. Mike Cenci. The fisher was released on $16,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in Ilwaco District Court on Dec. 23.

Cenci said he had never seen so many illegally harvested crabs in his career.

He added it took two enforcement officers plus seven employees of the cannery to sort through the boat's cargo of 26,684 pounds of crabs to remove the undersized ones.

The illegally harvested crabs were cooked and boxed and will be distributed to area food banks, Cenci said.