Crabber caught poaching, hiding crab in trash cans under water before season opened

Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife officers show garbage cans full of poached crab discovered in the waters off Blaine. (Photo: Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife)

BLAINE, Wash. -- A crabber suspected of poaching a large amount of crab before the season began has been busted by wildlife officials.

Officers with the state's Department of Fish & Wildlife received a tip from someone stating he had found a garbage can full of crab tied to a crab pot in the waters off Blaine the day before the commercial season began. The tipster stated the crabber was stockpiling recreationally caught crab for sale once the commercial season opened, officials said.

Officers went and spent a day watching the region, and noted several of their suspect's commercial buoys could be seen already in the water in advance of the opening of crab season. Eventually, the crabber came to the area, and while officers didn't spot him pulling up any garbage cans, he was seen stealing crab from a tribal crab pot and stole from within, officials said.

Wildlife officials then contacted the crabber, who admitted to stealing from the tribal pots and using galvanic "pop ups" to set over 10 crab pots in advance of the season. Investigators also concluded the fisherman had an extensive plan during the closed season where he had stockpiled crab in multiple garbage cans. A deckhand confirmed the story.

The crabber's boat and 1,100 pounds of crab were seized. The crab was sold to a local wholesale dealer. Why?

"Until the case is adjudicated, we have to allow the defendant due process," Wildlife officials said in a Facebook post. "If the court rules against our seizure, the court will require us to pay the defendant back, what he could have earned for the seized crab. For all property or products seized, we have to ensure the integrity and value of that property until the case is adjudicated. Because the court process can take months even years the crab was sold."

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