Couple are held accountable for illegally selling crab in Hermiston

By on Thursday, June 10th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

The following is a news release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

HERMISTON — A Prineville couple has been sentenced to pay $1200 in restitution after illegally selling recreationally caught crab on the commercial market. The incident showcases the importance of consumers knowing that the fish and shellfish they buy are legally harvested and handled as a food product.

Gerald and Shawna Wilson of Prineville will also pay $100 each to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line fund, and they are prohibited from obtaining a fishing or shellfish license for three years. OSP Fish and Wildlife troopers began an investigation after receiving a call on the TIP Line reporting crab advertised for sale on Facebook. Investigators followed up on the lead, and discovered the couple selling live or cooked crab via social media.

The couple listed the crab as free of charge, but with a suggested donation of $11 per pound to skirt marine fisheries laws that prohibit people from selling their personal limits of crab and other marine life on the commercial market, according to law enforcement. At least 11 people purchased the crab through Facebook or other social media, according to Lincoln County District Attorney Kenneth Park, who prosecuted the case in May of 2021.

“This was a good resolution,” Park said. “We charged for criminal negligence.” He emphasized the importance of consumers knowing where their seafood is sourced.

“If you see it online, and it is not a commercial operation, you are probably looking at illegal crab,” he said.

Bob Browning, an Oregon commercial crabber, is glad the case was solved and prosecuted.

“When you don’t have to play by the rules, you can sell products cheaper,” Browning said, “But people who purchase that (illegal) crab are also missing out on consumer protections like hazard plans and food handling regulations.

Dungeness crab photo by Kathy Munsel via ODFW