Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers and U.S. Coast Guard personnel have seized a 76-foot fishing trawler moored in a Blaine marina as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged over-fishing and under-reporting of groundfish catches off the Washington coast.
The vessel, the Pacific O'Ryan, is registered to a 45-year-old Tacoma man. WDFW seized the fishing boat Thursday (Jan. 4) for forfeiture to the state.
"The activities alleged to have taken place aboard this boat seriously undermine our efforts to manage dwindling resources for the best possible use of all state citizens," said WDFW Enforcement Chief Bruce Bjork.
The seizure, which will be followed by separate criminal charges, was the result of a nine-month investigation into alleged over-fishing of rockfish and other groundfish in coastal waters. In addition, reporting of the boat's catches are believed to have been under-reported. The alleged violations amount to thousands of pounds of illegal harvest dating back to 1999, according to WDFW enforcement officials.
Charges against those involved will be filed within the month, according to Sgt. Mike Cenci, who heads WDFW's coastal marine enforcement detachment. Both the fishing and reporting violations can be classified as either gross misdemeanors or Class C felonies, depending on circumstances surrounding the incidents.