An Alabama man faces more than $100,000 in fines after his arrest for allegedly harvesting egg-bearing female crabs in Mississipp, the Mississippi Department of Marine Reserouces announced.
Deuanetam Keovoravong, 47, of Irvington, Ala., faces 215 charges, as well as state assessments. He also is charged with failure to yield to blue lights and siren, and tampering with evidence.
Keovoravong was allegedly found in possession of egg-bearing female crabs — aka sponge crabs — which is illegal in Mississippi. Crabbers are required to release those crabs immediately upon catching.
According to MDMR, officers Patrick Carron and Jada Whittington were on patrol last week near Chevron Refinery in Jackson County when they observed a commercial crab vessel in Bayou Cumbest.
The officers attempted to stop the vessel for a regulatory compliance check, but the operator failed to yield to the emergency lights and siren, and continued about 500 feet past the patrol boat.
Carron observed the operator, Keovoravong, throwing crabs overboard, the agency reported. Once officers stopped the vessel and checked it, they discovered the operator was illegally harvesting egg-bearing female crabs, according to the MDMR news release.
Officers discovered that Keovoravong had 215 illegally harvested crabs still on board after throwing several overboard before he was stopped, the MDMR said. The officers later put the 215 crabs back in the water, the agency said.
Jackson County Prosecutor Mark Watts told MDMR that Keovoravong would be charged separately for each crab because of the potential significant impact this violation has on the blue crab population. He faces up to $107,500 in charges. Justice Court Judge Jason Thornton issued a bond of $40,000 for Keovoravong.
Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis said this case is a prime example of MDMR’s commitment to securing Mississippi’s seafood industry.
“We must remain vigilant and use cutting-edge, covert strategies against those who choose to violate state law and administrative regulations,” Davis said.