My Side of the Plate: Piracy alive on Whidbey Island

Two types of pirates have dropped anchor in Whidbey Island’s waters.

On one hand you have Capt. Jack Sparrow and his merry band of “cutthroats” who have been known to storm the ramparts at events like the recent Coupeville Wharf Fest and will be present at the Pirates’ Charity fundraiser July 21 in Windjammer Park.

Another group of “ne’er-do-wells” who work for the good of the community are the Oak Harbor Yacht Club Buccaneers that helped make the kids’ free fishing derby a big success last Saturday.

On the other hand there is a group of folks who are living their lives in the tradition of Blackbeard and Capt. Henry Morgan, and are nothing but a bunch of thieves.

These pirates are the ones too lazy to set their own string of crab pots so they steal the catch from legitimate fishermen.

I live on Dugualla Bay and one of my neighbors told me he had five pots in his eight-pot string emptied last week and the thievery will only continue.

Officials from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said these types of thefts are hard to enforce because nobody sees anything and unless registration numbers of suspects’ boats are obtained, there isn’t much that can be done.

In addition, crab fishing is a widespread sport and the WDFW has a limited number of enforcement officers available.

Of course if these crab pirates were flying the Jolly Roger on their boats it might make things a bit easier, but honest people and the police couldn’t be that lucky.

Such goings-on remind me of how it was when the Michigan Fish and Game Department opened the Allegan Highbanks to goose hunting years ago.

At the time geese were scarce but if you could shoot your Marlin “goose cannon” with the 36-inch barrel loaded with number-four buckshot, which was a legal load in those days, you had a chance — provided some jerk didn’t run up and steal your goose after you knocked it out of the sky.

The fish and game department allowed three people in a blind and the joke was you needed two shooters and another guy wearing a track suit and spiked shoes to run the geese down before somebody stole them.

Anyone who has hunted deer has heard stories about confrontations between hunters over who really shot the six-point buck. Situations such as this tend to get dangerous because all parties involved are armed with lethal weapons.

A legitimate hunter knows when their shot was on target and anyone claiming otherwise is a liar. But you sometimes have those types of folks who claim they made the shot from 1,000 yards across the valley even though there is only one hole in the deer and no FBI ballistics expert available.

I’m not sure what you would call these land-based pirates.

The Whidbey Island crab pirates need to be taught a lesson and I don’t think a fine will do the trick.

Maybe an “Iron Maiden” like they had at the entrance to the harbor at Port Royal in Pirates of the Caribbean would be the answer. You could put one of the thieves inside with Dungeness crabs hanging to his toes and let him dangle there awhile.

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