ANCHORAGE - The owner and captain of a fishing vessel featured on the Discovery Channel's popular reality show "Deadliest Catch" has pleaded no contest to a single count of illegally possessing undersized crab, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Richard S. Quashnick, 51, owner of the Maverick, was fined $1,500 after an Alaska wildlife trooper inspecting his catch over the winter discovered some of the Maverick's bairdi tanner crabs were smaller than the 5.5 inches required by law, troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.
"We went through several hundred of those crabs and there was only a small percent that was undersized," Ipsen said. "He was allowed to continue with the season."
Quashnick, reached by phone in Warrenton, Ore., said he was hauling some 45,000 pounds of crab at the time and troopers found only a few that were undersized.
The citation was a violation and was not criminal in nature, Ipsen said. Quashnick entered his no contest plea in Unalaska District Court on May 28, according to troopers.
"It was an accident," he said. "It was just a mistake that my crew made, and we took care of it."
The wildlife trooper came across the violation in February aboard a floating fish-processing vessel in the Bering Sea near the Pribilof Islands, Ipsen said. Troopers often measure a portion of a catch - usually several hundred crab - to ensure size limits are being followed, she said.
A film crew from the "Deadliest Catch" was not filming the vessel this season and so was not present at the time of the citation, Quashnick said.
Calls and e-mails to a Discovery Channel spokeswoman were not returned Friday.
The 92-foot Maverick was a fixture on the reality show when it debuted in 2005. Quashnick and his wife, Donna, own the vessel and were regularly featured on the show's first seasons, along with alternate Capt. Blake Painter, a "greenhorn" who subbed for the Quashnicks when they took a season off.
According to Alaska court records, Quashnick previously pleaded no contest in a 1998 case in which he was accused of taking and possessing undersized king crab. He was fined $15,000, with half suspended, in that case.
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