PASCO – Three Kennewick men are accused of stealing 22 fish, including three wild steelhead and two wild Chinook salmon, from a state fish hatchery collection site on the Snake River, officials said.
Peter P. Robison, 50, Robert D. Bowen, 31, and William S. Lueck, 40, were charged in Franklin County District Court with unlawful fishing, fishing in closed waters and during closed season and several other violations.
Federal charges are pending on possession of wild steelhead and salmon, which are listed as threatened on the Snake River under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, according to a news release by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Fish & Wildlife officers Brian Fulton of Pasco and Rob McQuary of Walla Walla started watching the fish hatchery collection site after receiving an anonymous tip about the illegal fishing, officials said.
On Oct. 2, the officers saw three men fishing from a boat at night within the 400-foot area around the broodstock collection area on the river, adjacent to the Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery.
The area is closed to all fishing, as is stated in the state fishing rules pamphlet, officials said.
The boat reportedly had no navigation lights and made several passes inside the closed area, the news release said.
The officers also watched as the men caught and landed several fish and placed them in a large cooler, officials said.
Officers confronted the men just before 3 a.m. after they removed the boat from the river at the Lyons Ferry Marina and were attempting to leave the parking lot, officials said.
Fines for the multiple state charges range up to $5,000 per count and up to a year in jail. An 18-foot boat, trailer, five fishing rods and miscellaneous fishing and boating equipment were seized.
“We appreciate this kind of information from citizens,” said WDFW Enforcement Sgt. Jim Nelson of Walla Walla. “We need everyone’s eyes and ears out there to protect our fish and wildlife resources.”
To report poaching, call 1-800-477-6224, or contact the Washington State Patrol to reach WDFW officers.