JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - An Alabama man faces 215 separate charges, and more than $100,000 in fines for allegedly harvesting sponge crabs illegally in Mississippi waters.
Last week, officers with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources were on patrol near Chevron Refinery in Jackson County when they spotted a commercial crab vessel in Bayou Cumbest. The officers turned on their lights and siren, but the operator wouldn't stop. The officers then noticed the man on the boat was throwing crabs overboard.
Once officers stopped the vessel and checked it, they discovered the operator was illegally harvesting egg-bearing female crabs. State law prohibits the harvest of these types of crabs and specifically instructs the harvester to "immediately return the crab to the water."
Deuanetam Keovoravong, 47, of Irvington, AL faces a $500 fine for each misdemeanor charge, as well as state assessments. He also is charged with failure to yield to blue lights and siren and tampering with evidence.
Because of the potential significant impact this violation has on the blue crab population, DMR and Jackson County Prosecutor Mark Watts decided Keovoravong should be charged separately for each crab. Officers said Keovoravong had 215 illegally harvested crabs still on board after throwing several overboard before he was stopped.
Keovoravong faces up to $107,500 in charges. His bond was set at $40,000.
As for the crabs, all 215 were returned to the water.