Washington game wardens will hand-deliver to county prosecutors criminal charges against a Hood Canal trio recently found in possession of nearly 15 times the daily limit of spot shrimp.
It’s the latest example of bad behavior by shellfish swine, folks who have no compunction about breaking the rules and stealing natural resources from those who follow the regs.
WDFW Police reported on Facebook this morning that three agency officers were on patrol during a four-hour Thursday Hood Canal shrimp opener and had had “no contacts of note” until spotting a boat off Lilliwaup, on the west side of the fjord, and one buoy still in the water.
They watched as the three aboard stowed the last of their gear and then “immediately head out.”
When Sergeant Ken Balazs and Officers Summit and Garrison intercepted them, they found the shrimpers had “four pots loaded with shrimp, clearly over the limit for three people.”
The daily limit is a maximum of 80 spot shrimp.
Asked how many of the prawns they had aboard, the trio stated they were going to count them at home, “a common answer for those found over their limits,” WDFW alleges.
Given that it was the group’s last pull and it looked like they’d easily exceeded their limits, officers apparently were suspicious that this might not have been their only trip onto the canal that day.
Asked how their earlier pulls had gone, the trio “initially stated that they only made the one pull for the day,” and they stuck with that line as Balazs, Summit and Garrison counted their shrimp and found them to be “nearly eight times” over their limit.
Asked how many shrimp they had back at the house, the trio began to come clean, allegedly admitting to roughly the same amount.
Officers followed them back to a home off of Dewatto Bay where they discovered a 5-gallon bucket three-quarters full of spot shrimp tails.
“In total, the group of three harvested 1,155 shrimp, nearly 15 times the limit!” WDFW reported.
“Harvested” isn’t the correct word, in this case. That word is “poached,” at least for the 915 shrimp above and beyond the daily limit of 80 apiece.
It might be one of the most egregious overlimits WDFW has seen this spot shrimp season.
During a San Juan Islands patrol, officers found 12 people in five different boats to be 361, 289, 261, 186 and 182 spot shrimp over the limit, a combined 16 daily limits that could have been harvested by law-abiding shrimpers. All shrimp in those cases at least were donated to food banks.
When Dungeness season opened up off of Whidbey Island earlier this month, three crabbers were found to have filled two coolers and a 5-gallon bucket with 44 of the prized shellfish. The daily limit is five hard-shelled males at least 6.25 inches across the carapace. This trio had lso only marked four of the crabs on their cards and were still actively fishing eight pots – in aggregate, two more than allowed. Criminal charges of first-degree overlimits, failure to record their catch and using too many pots were filed with the county prosecutor. The crabs were returned to the sea.
And of course shellfish scofflaws aren’t a Washington-only species. ODFW yesterday reported that state fish and wildlife troopers “were busy the first day” of the North Coast’s annual summer razor clam conservation closure. They contacted nearly 100 diggers and confiscated 400-plus razors – about 100 pounds worth of the clams.
“Though the annual conservation closure started in 1967 (55 years ago!), apparently not everyone has gotten the message,” ODFW stated.
Back in Dewatto on Hood Canal, the shrimp-stealing ringleader was given a chance to explain how he and his two accomplices had managed to go so far beyond the limit.
“Math was never my strength,” he replied, according to WDFW.
“All three will be cited and the case will be hand delivered to the deputy prosecutor to prosecute these violations criminally,” officers stated.
Here’s to Mr. Math Was Never My Strength’s pending bank account subtractions.