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Men Arrested In Connection With Shellfish Poaching Along Hood Canal

Carolyn Beeler
03/19/2010

State Wildlife officials have arrested two men in connection with massive poaching of oysters and clams from beaches along Hood Canal.

TRANSCRIPT

Authorities say the men and others in their operation allegedly gathered about half a million dollars worth of shellfish.

Mike Cenci is deputy chief with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Cenci: "I think we can safely say that if our allegations are proven this is probably one of the larger shellfish heists that we've witnessed. We're estimating that about 300,000 oysters were stolen and thousands of pounds of hard–shell clams."

Community members told the Department of Wildlife that people were gathering shellfish in tidewaters off of private land and state parks in Jefferson County. They gathered most of the shellfish by hand, then shipped them to farmers markets on homemade barges. They sold them for the company G&R Quality Seafood.

Cenci says officials watched the operation for seven months before making the arrests.

Cenci: "It's one part luck, it's one part hiding in the bushes and being covert and following people around and then another part relying on other information to put it all together. So simply put, our officers spent a lot of long nights hiding in the bushes and following people around."

Officers seized two barges, another boat and a van during the arrests. Cenci says the investigation is ongoing and more arrests will be made.

For KUOW News, I'm Carolyn Beeler.

© Copyright 2010, KUOW

Editor's Note: Transcript has been edited for accuracy and differs from the original broadcast version. Community members told the Department of Wildlife that people were gathering shellfish in tidewaters off of private land and state parks in Jefferson County, not Jackson. (4/5/2010)

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