Crab boat used sunken vessel's pots to overfish

Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2005

ANCHORAGE - A Seattle skipper and his crew have been charged with illegally fishing for crab with pots that belonged to the Big Valley, a crab boat that sank the day the fishery was to begin.

The Sea Warrior carried about 15 crab pots to the Bering Sea on behalf of the Big Valley, and after the latter vessel sank, illegally fished for opilio crab with them, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Sgt. Greg Garcia, post supervisor in Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands, said the Sea Warrior is suspected of fishing illegally about 300 miles northwest of the community.

Each crew member of the Sea Warrior was charged with use of excessive gear, unlawful possession of crab, unlawful sale of crab, violation of gear-marking requirements and use of untagged pots. All the charges are misdemeanors.

The Big Valley, a 92-foot vessel out of Kodiak, sank Jan. 15 in heavy seas about 70 miles west of St. Paul Island. Rescuers picked up three crew members but just one survived - Cache Seel, 30, of Kodiak. Three others, including skipper Gary Edwards, have not been found.

Troopers seized approximately 150,000 pounds of crab, valued at about $270,000, onboard the Sea Warrior. The crab was turned over to a processor and receipts held pending a court decision.

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