Poaching is Serious on Oregon Coast: Dory Captain Loses Right to Fish After Many Offenses

Published 08/05/22 at 8:05 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Poaching is Serious on Oregon Coast: Dory Captain Loses Right to Fish After Many Offenses

(Pacific City, Oregon) – Oregon coast officials are serious about poaching when it comes to fishing in these waters. A recent case involving a dory boat commercial fisherman out of Pacific City illustrates why skirting the laws involving hunting and fishing is serious business, and that those laws are there for a reason.

In this case, Tillamook fisherman Charles “Joe” Evens violated the terms of his commercial fishing license when it was discovered he was breaking a few laws at once by not reporting his catch, exceeding quota, and keeping the catch for himself instead of selling it on the market.

These standards, among other things, are part of the terms of a commercial fishing license along Oregon coast waters. Because of these violations, Evens has lost any fishing license for five years, which includes around the U.S. and not just the Oregon coast.

Oregon State Police’s (OSP) Fish & Wildlife said laws are there to ensure fishermen report their catch to fish dealers to maintain quota – and quotas are there for fairness and for the survival of the stock and the industry.

Evens is a considered a repeat offender, with similar run-ins in 2018. These violations are serious and so are the consequences, according to OSP F&W Lt. Ryan Howell.

“When an individual receives a hunting or angling license suspension it is usually for a pretty serious violation of fish and wildlife laws,” Howell said. “The OSP F&W Division takes any violation of the suspended license very seriously. If you know of anyone who continues to fish or hunt with a suspended license, we would appreciate the information and it could lead to a TIP Reward.”

Sentencing occurred on June 27, where Tillamook County officials handed down $400 in fines, $300 of which goes to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) as restitution. He was also sentenced to 80 hours of community service, and five years bench probation. During this time he is prohibited from angling or assisting others in angling.

The license suspension falls within the parameters of the Violator Compact, a reciprocal agreement among most states. The Compact demands that if someone loses their hunting or fishing privileges in one state, they lose them in all states.

The waters of Oregon’s halibut fishery fall under Oregon, Washington, and federal oversight. In such circumstances, agency enforcement officers may partner to solve crimes. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and OSP F&W Division have solved several cases cooperatively, according to Lt. Howell.

NOAA is one of our partner agencies when it comes to enforcement of our fishery resources both inland and on the ocean,” Lt. Howell said. “We work really well with NOAA regarding state and federal fisheries enforcement.”

The Pacific halibut fishery in the northeast Pacific Ocean is healthy because of extraordinary efforts by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), NOAA Fisheries, and ODFW to set quotas at levels intended for long-term sustainability according to Lynn Mattes, ODFW project leader for recreational groundfish and halibut. If someone exceeds catch limits or bag limits, that is stealing opportunities from others, as well as potentially putting the health of the stock in jeopardy.

“If quotas are exceeded, it could cause the stock to decrease, resulting in fewer fishing opportunities in the future,” Mattes said. “Pacific halibut are a very valuable and highly sought after fish for both recreational and commercial anglers. Catches of halibut are often limited to a single fish, to provide as much opportunity as possible while staying within quotas.”

Evens has done this before when it comes to taking halibut. He lost his recreational fishing license in 2018 after OSP F&W Troopers received a tip that someone operating a dory boat in the Cape Kiwanda area was catching and keeping halibut for themselves and their passengers without reporting it.

Troopers began surveillance on Evens’ 20-foot dory, Wild Ride, and eventually requested to board his boat for an inspection. During the inspection, Troopers noticed three fuel cans next to the motor. Two of the fuel cans had hoses running to the motor. A Trooper reached down to lift the third can. The top of the can lifted easily to reveal eight snowy white halibut fillets nestled in ice in a special hidden container.

In 2018, Evens was cited criminally for several offenses and pleaded no contest to two fish and wildlife misdemeanors. He was placed on probation for three years, received a 3-year angling license suspension, five days in jail, and was ordered to pay $500 in restitution to ODFW.

Evens admitted to his unlawful activities and charges were referred to the Tillamook County District Attorney’s Office. In June 2022, Evens pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful commercial fishing activities.

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