Two men are accused of poaching crab in the protected Cape Falcon Marine Reserve south of Cannon Beach using gear stolen from other crabbers.
Scott Giles, most recently of Ilwaco, Washington, and deckhand Travis Westerlund, of Astoria, face criminal charges including theft, criminal mischief, unlawful take and fishing in a prohibited area, following an indictment in August.
Given the alleged amount of stolen gear found in his possession, Giles, captain of the commercial fishing vessel The Baranof, faces felony theft charges.
A researcher with Oregon State University and a commercial crabber discovered a string of 19 pots hidden in the reserve area in April 2019. The pots were marked with a variety of paint colors, leading investigators to conclude they had been stolen from other crabbers.
The pots were tracked to seven commercial crabbers between Astoria and Newport, authorities said.
More pots were also discovered when someone ran over a line attached to two strings of crab pots, authorities said.
Investigators with the Oregon State Police’s fish and wildlife division marked the legal-sized crab they found in those pots and lowered the gear back in place. Then trooper Jim O’Connor waited at a local processing plant to see if anyone delivered the crab.
The marked crab hours later was delivered by The Baranof, authorities said. Investigators served search warrants before arresting Giles and Westerlund this summer. Both men have since been released as the cases proceed.
It wasn't immediately known if the men have lawyers to comment on their cases.
The Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, located offshore from Oswald West State Park in Tillamook County, was established in 2016 with harvest restrictions beginning the same year.