Canadian crab pot caper

Canadian crab pot caper

Customs and Border Protection Marine Enforcement Officers cracked the case of a Canadian crabber caught in American waters.

While on patrol near the international border in Whatcom County, the officers noticed a small runabout about a half a mile south of the U.S. border.

Officials said when the officers performed border inspection check, they found that the lone Canadian occupant had been hauling commercial crab gear and had a very large number of crab aboard the vessel.

Washington Fish and Wildlife officers were called in to investigate. When they searched the boat, they say they discovered approximately 50 live crabs stored in various compartments. Officers say the boat was was covered with mud and shells indicating many crab pots had recently been hauled aboard the vessel and the majority of the crab were undersized or female.

Investigators said the suspect had been taking orders for crab from other Canadians and that he was in the process of filling those orders when he was contacted by officers. He allegedly admitted that he had made two previous trips into US waters to harvest crab for his commercial operation.

Officers were able develop probable cause for felony-level commercial trafficking under State law and similar violations of the Federal Lacey Act. The vessel was seized for forfeiture and the suspect was returned to Canada Customs at the Peace Arch border crossing.

Officials said WDFW Marine Officers, and a USBP Agent located and seized 22 commercial crab pots that were actively crabbing with fresh bait and matched the pots found aboard the suspect’s boat. About 80 crab were released unharmed. Recreational, treaty and commercial crab seasons are all closed.

Recreational, treaty and commercial crab seasons are all closed.