Three Boat Captains Charged with Illegally Transporting Infected Crab from Alaska to Seattle

Three Alaska boat captains charged for illegally transporting over 7,000 lbs of crab infected with Bitter Crab Syndrome to Seattle, violating federal and state laws and threatening the future of the Alaska crab fishery.

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Salman Khan
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Three Boat Captains Charged with Illegally Transporting Infected Crab from Alaska to Seattle

Three Boat Captains Charged with Illegally Transporting Infected Crab from Alaska to Seattle

Three boat captains have been charged with illegally transporting over 7,000 pounds of crab infected with Bitter Crab Syndrome from Alaska to Seattle in February and March 2023, violating federal and state law. Corey Potter, Justin Welch, and Kyle Potter allegedly bypassed the mandatory fish ticket process in Alaska, which is designed to detect and prevent the spread of the fatal crab disease.

The captains caught the Tanner and golden king crab in Southeast Alaska and transported it directly to Seattle, where they planned to sell it at a higher price. However, by the time the crab reached Seattle, over 1,200 pounds of king crab had died and the entire 4,200 pound Tanner crab harvest was destroyed due to the presence of Bitter Crab Syndrome.

Why this matters: This incident is seen as having a direct impact on the future viability of the Alaska crab fishery and as stealing from law-abiding fishermen. The spread of Bitter Crab Syndrome threatens crab populations and the livelihoods of those in the industry who follow regulations.

Federal prosecutors allege this conduct deprives law-abiding fishermen and directly impacts the future profitability of Alaska's crab fishery. The captains are accused of violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits the illegal transport of wildlife across state borders.

Corey Potter acknowledged that some of the crab was infected with Bitter Crab Syndrome. "A large portion of the crabs were dead upon arrival, and many were infected with the deadly Bitter Crab Syndrome," said a law enforcement official. "The infected crab had to be disposed of, resulting in serious economic losses."

The charges against Corey Potter, Justin Welch, and Kyle Potter carry a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment and a $20,000 fine per count. The first hearing in the case is scheduled for May 2, 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • 3 boat captains charged with illegally transporting 7,000 lbs of infected crab
  • Crab infected with Bitter Crab Syndrome, causing 1,200 lbs of king crab to die
  • Incident threatens Alaska crab fishery, deprives law-abiding fishermen of profits
  • Captains violated Lacey Act, face up to 5 years in prison and $20,000 fines
  • First hearing scheduled for May 2, 2024