In a crabby mood? Agents cite Mississippi man for stealing crab traps in Louisiana

Published 9:40 am Saturday, April 2, 2022

A Mississippi shrimp boat operator was caught in a an apparent crabby mood when agents cited him for stealing crab traps in the Mississippi River.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife of Fisheries enforcement division agents cited William Epperson, 60, of Pass Christian, for alleged crabbing violations in Plaquemines Parish on March 31.

Agents were on patrol near Venice when they received a complaint about a shrimp boat keeping crab traps that were caught in trawls.  Agents stopped the vessel being operated by Epperson in the Mississippi River. When agents boarded the vessel they found Epperson in possession of 11 serviceable crab traps belonging to four other fishermen.

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Agents cited Epperson for theft of crab traps and unlawful removal of contents.

Shrimper and crab trap interactions are defined in state law and state that if a fisherman catches serviceable crab traps, they must return them to the water.

Theft of crab traps and unlawful removal of contents brings up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail for each offense.

The department shall also suspend or revoke the violator’s crab trap gear license for a period of one year from the date of the conviction and no new crab trap gear license shall be issued to the violator during the period of suspension or revocation.  During the period in which the violator’s license is suspended or revoked, the violator may be present on a vessel commercially harvesting or processing crabs only if that vessel is equipped with and is actively using a vessel monitoring system accessible to the department. In addition, the violator shall be sentenced to perform no less than forty of community service.  If available, the hours shall be served removing abandoned crab traps as a part of the derelict crab trap removal program or in a litter abatement community service program.

Agents participating in the case are Lt. Adam Young, Corporal Tom Forehand, and Senior Agent Austin Landry.  The case will be forwarded to District Attorney Charles Ballay for prosecution.