FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm
News Releases 2003
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NOAA FISHERIES OFFICE FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT SEIZES ILLEGALLY CAUGHT SNOW CRAB VALUED AT NEARLY $350,000
NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement (OLE) is investigating five U.S. fishing vessels that may have been illegally harvesting crabs in the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coast of Alaska. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency of the Commerce Department.
The vessels were ordered to Dutch Harbor, Alaska by the U.S. Coast Guard after a Coast Guard aircraft and a cutter identified the vessels setting and pulling crab pots on the Russian side of the Maritime Boundary Line.
The alleged illegal crabbing occurred the week of Jan. 19, 2002 in Russian waters off Alaska, and involved vessels from Washington and Alaska. Over 223,000 pounds of highly-prized Snow crab, also called Tanner or Opilio, were seized from the five vessels by Special Agent Ernie Soper, NOAA Fisheries OLE Alaskan Division. The estimated value of the crab is nearly $350,000. All vessels will be investigated for potential violations of the Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to acquire fish or wildlife in violation of international treaties.
“It’s unusual to have U.S. boats illegally fishing in Russian waters,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Mahaffey, NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement Alaskan Division. “We will proceed with the investigation in coordination with the Coast Guard and NOAA’s General Council for Enforcement and Litigation.”
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA fisheries) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat.
The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.
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