UPDATE: Maine's Operation Game Thief is offering a $2,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the sinking of Hooper's lobster boat.
“This is a senseless act that has happened to one of our own,” said Operation Game Thief Board of Directors Chairman Greg Sirpis. “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.”
“We’re grateful for the tremendous support of the Operation Game Thief program,” said Marine Patrol Major 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 hard working fishermen to make a living on the water.”
PORT CLYDE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A fisherman in Port Clyde said his family is suffering after someone deliberately sank his lobster boat for the third time in two months.
Tony Hooper told NEWS CENTER his lobster boat “Liberty” went to the bottom for the first time in mid-August, then was sunk again early last week and a third time on Friday night. The Maine Marine Patrol is investigating but said Monday they don’t yet know if Hooper is being targeted because of a fishing conflict or for personal reasons.
“I’ve done nothing,” Hooper said when asked if he had done something to another fisherman that might have prompted retribution. “I get up in the morning, go out to haul my traps and go home. I don’t mess with nobody.”
Hooper said he thinks someone is trying to force him out of Port Clyde because he lives in a different part of the same town. Port Clyde is part of the larger town of St. George, which includes other sections known as Martinsville and Tenant’s Harbor. Many fishing harbors are highly territorial, and another fisherman suggested to NEWS CENTER some people might be against Hooper because he doesn’t actually live in Port Clyde.
“I’m originally from Martinsville, which is a mile up the road,” he said. “So there’s a double standard in this town a lot of time. Certain people can live out of town and certain people can’t. I’m one of the people who can’t live out of town.”
Hooper said the whole ordeal is stressful for his family. He said he and his girlfriend just had a baby 10 days ago, and that they have “no money” because he has used up savings repairing the boat and has had limited income since mid-August.
The Marine Patrol said people in the community have been cooperative during the investigation, but it is still hoping to hear from more of them. The agency said it does not have a clear suspect at this time and is still working the case.
The Marine Patrol is asking anyone with information to call them or the Knox County Sheriff’s office.