Reward offered to solve lobster boat sinking case


    Tony Hooper (right) speaks with Celia Crie Knight of Knight Marine Service of Rockland as his lobster boat Liberty is hauled in for repairs on Monday afternoon in Rockland. Liberty has been intentionally sunk three times in the past six weeks off Port Clyde. (Stephen Betts|BDN)

    PORT CLYDE (BDN) -- Maine’s Operation Game Thief is offering a $2,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the repeated sinking of a lobster boat in Port Clyde.

    “This is a senseless act that has happened to one of our own,” said Greg Sirpis, chairman of Operation Game Thief’s board of directors. “The commercial lobstering community has a deep-rooted tradition in Maine, and this will simply not stand. The Maine OGT Board of Directors is hopeful that someone will come forward and furnish information that will assist the Maine Marine Patrol in their investigation.”

    Anthony Hooper’s 35-foot lobster boat Liberty was intentionally sunk early Saturday morning, the third time in six weeks. The vessel has been hauled to Knight Marine Service in Rockland for repairs but Hooper said he is not likely to get Liberty back in the water this lobster harvesting season.

    Maine Marine Patrol is investigating the sinkings.

    "We’re grateful for the tremendous support of the Operation Game Thief program,” said marine patrol Maj. Rene Cloutier. “While their focus is traditionally on poaching violations, their partnership with the Marine Patrol will help us pursue serious violations that undermine the ability of hardworking fishermen to make a living on the water.”

    Operation Game Thief was formed in 1989 with the goal of protecting the state’s natural resources. It is a private, nonprofit organization that works with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Warden Service, Department of Marine Resources, Maine Marine Patrol and Wildlife Crime Stoppers to pay rewards to residents who turn in poachers.

    The Liberty also was intentionally sunk on Aug. 17 and the second sinking occurred the night of Sept. 28.

    Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Operation Game Thief hot line at 800-253-7887 (800-ALERT-US); out-of-state callers should dial 1-207-287-6057. Information can also be provided through the OGT online tip reporting form at maineogt.org/report.php. Information provided by phone or the tip reporting form can be provided anonymously.

    Anyone with information also can contact Maine Marine Patrol. Contact information can be found at maine.gov/dmr/marine-patrol/marine-contact.html.

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