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NOAA, Federal Agencies Partner with the Russian Government to Stop Alleged Illegal Fishing

March 9, 2011

More than 112 metric tons of frozen king crab seized at the Port of Seattle

As a result of an investigation by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, conducted with assistance from its federal partners and the Russian government, more than 112 metric tons of Russian king crab has been seized at the Port of Seattle.

The king crab allegedly was harvested illegally from Russian waters by vessels without sufficient permits or quota to harvest the crab and was imported or attempted to be imported into the United States by a New York company.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington state filed a complaint in federal district court on February 24, seeking forfeiture of the seized crab. Among other claims, the complaint alleges the attempt to import the crab violated the Lacey Act’s prohibition on the transportation or importation of fish taken in violation of any U.S. or foreign law. In addition, the complaint alleges that false or inaccurate documents were used during the import process.

“This seizure should send a message that NOAA, its federal partners and the Russian government are serious in their effort to attack illegal poaching of Russian king crab,” said Vicki Nomura, special agent in charge of OLE’s Northwest division. “This kind of illegal activity threatens the long-term sustainability of the Russian crab population, creates an inflated market for the crab, hurts domestic fishermen, and undermines conservation efforts. Illegal and unreported fishing is a global challenge, and the seizure of this king crab is an example of international cooperation producing tangible results.”

The seizure was prompted by inspections conducted at the Port of Seattle by NOAA law enforcement along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. With the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Russian Federation Border Service, NOAA received information indicating that the king crab was harvested by Russian vessels with insufficient quota to account for the large quantity of crab.

The mission of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations enacted to conserve and protect our nation's marine resources, including the Lacey Act. To report a suspected violation, contact OLE's national hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources . Visit us at or on Facebook at



Lesli Bales-Sherrod
301-427-2300 ext. 103