Three fishermen are facing federal charges after being indicted for illegally transporting over 7,000 pounds of crab from Southeast Alaska to Seattle. The operation, aimed at fetching higher prices by avoiding Alaska's legal procedures for crab harvesting and transport, ended in disaster, prompting federal authorities to take action.

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The Accused and Their Scheme

The indicted individuals, Corey Potter, Justin Welch, and Kyle Potter, are accused of violating the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits the illegal trade of wildlife across state or national borders. Court documents reveal that the boats used in the operation, the Arctic Dawn and Gambler, were owned by Corey Potter, while his son, Kyle Potter, and Welch served as captains. The boats, based in Kodiak, Alaska, illegally transported the crab to Seattle without following state regulations, bypassing checks designed to ensure the safety and sustainability of the crab fishery.

Scheme Leads to Wasted Haul

Between February and March, the men harvested over 7,000 pounds of Tanner and golden king crab in Southeast Alaska. Instead of landing at a legal port in Alaska, they set sail for Seattle. The aim was to sell the catch at higher prices, but this scheme led to disastrous outcomes. Upon reaching Washington state, more than 1,200 pounds of king crab had died, rendering them unsellable, while another 4,200 pounds of Tanner crab had to be destroyed due to signs of bitter crab syndrome, a disease caused by a parasite that is fatal to crabs.

Impact on Alaska's Crab Fishery

"This type of conduct has a direct impact on the future viability of the crab fishery in Alaska and steals crab from the pots of law-abiding fishermen," Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Brickley stated in the brief. The case has raised concerns among regulators and fishermen about the effect of illegal activities on Alaska's crab fishery, which has already been struggling with declining populations due to warming waters. This incident underscores the need for strict enforcement of regulations to ensure the sustainability of the industry.

Court Appearances and Expected Penalties

Corey Potter, Justin Welch, and Kyle Potter are scheduled to appear in court in early May for their initial hearing. Federal prosecutors are expected to seek stiff penalties for the illegal transport and destruction of the crab, emphasizing the critical role of enforcement in maintaining Alaska's valuable seafood industry.


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