WALDOBORO, Maine — A fisherman accused of trying to secretly catch lobsters and his sternman have been charged with multiple fishing violations, according to state officials.
Duston Reed, a 34 year-old lobsterman from Waldoboro, was arrested Aug. 18 by the Maine Marine Patrol and taken to the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset. The arrests of Reed and his sternman, Jeremy Yeaton of Friendship, came after a seven-month investigation, according to a news release from the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
Reed was charged with fishing lobster traps that were not marked with a buoy, fishing untagged lobster traps, falsifying physical evidence and tampering with a witness. A total of 40 unmarked, untagged traps allegedly owned by Reed were recovered by Marine Patrol officers after an investigation determined where they were being used.
The two fishing-related charges carry potential fines totaling $2,500. The charge of falsifying physical evidence, a Class D misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. The charge of tampering with a witness, a Class C felony, is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Reed also faces suspension of his lobster, commercial fishing and scallop licenses.
“This was a thorough investigation that resulted in charges for significant violations of Maine’s marine resource laws,” Marine Patrol Col. Jon Cornish said Monday in a news release. “Marking lobster traps with buoys and tags allows Marine Patrol to identify the harvester associated with the traps and to ensure compliance with our important resource laws which are designed to sustain Maine’s valuable fisheries.”
The falsifying physical evidence and witness tampering charges stem from the allegation that Reed instructed Yeaton to remove marine electronics used to navigate and locate fishing gear.
Yeaton, whose age was not provided by the Department of Marine Resources, was arrested Aug. 28 and charged with falsification of physical evidence related to removing electronics from Reed’s fishing vessel, Outer Limits. He faces 364 days in jail and $2,000 in fines for the alleged violation.
Reed and Yeaton were no longer at the Wiscasset jail on Monday.
“This was an extensive investigation that involved a great deal of detective work by Marine Patrol officers,” Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in the statement. “Violations of this magnitude that show a clear intent to conceal illegal activity and to disregard our important resource laws will be taken very seriously.”