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Crab pots soon to be gone from Brookings beach

BROOKINGS — A Newport crabber says he plans later this month to salvage a dozen of the more than 200 commercial crab pots dumped into the ocean at the Chetco River bay in December.

Crabber Chad Haefer will be pulling the gnarled crab pots during a series of minus tides March 20-25 at Sporthaven Beach under the watchful eye of state parks officials who are holding Haefer liable for the salvage.

"He's responsible," says Calum Stevenson, coastal coordinator for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, which has jurisdiction of Oregon beaches down to the extreme low-tide line.

Haefer says he plans to do the salvage himself. If he doesn't, state parks has the authority to hire a salvage crew and bill the Chevelle's owners — a corporation that lists Haefer and Diane Hammond as agents.

"It doesn't seem like a very big deal," Haefer says. "I think we're going to be fine."

The planned salvage comes as beach-goers, surfers, boaters and others remain concerned that the pots' presence poses safety hazards.

Surfers like Russ Stauffer, a part-time Port Orford resident, bemoan the problems the wayward pots pose to one of Southern Oregon's top surfing beaches.

"It affects access, aesthetics and they can be safety problems," Stauffer says.

Still unclear, however, is how the remainder of the pots will be located and salvaged.

The state Department of State Lands has jurisdiction west of the point where state parks' jurisdiction ends, Stevenson says.

Haefer says he has no plans to recover pots other than the ones currently on or near the shore.

"I'm aware of a dozen of them 100 feet from the jetty," Haefer says. "I'm not aware of any others."

A set of high waves rolled the Chevelle Dec. 9 at the river mouth, causing it to dump 283 of the commercial pots, valued at about $200 apiece, into the sea.

The crab pots can be found on a map at 42 02.63N 124 16.25W.

The Chevelle owns a permit allowing it to use 500 pots while crabbing off Oregon's shores.

"As you can imagine, it's pretty devastating to be without half your gear," Haefer says. "It was a pretty substantial financial loss."

Stevenson says parks officials really want the pots removed during this month's minus tides. If surf and weather conditions make that unsafe, the next opportunity would be during another set of extra-low tides in mid-April, he says.

"They've certainly become a headache, that's for sure," Stevenson says.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

An unidentified surfer rides a wave on Sporthaven Beach near Brookings, skirting around some of the derelict crab pots that litter the beach from a Dec. 9 capsizing of a crab boat there.