Plaquemines Parish Man Arrested for Commercial Fishing Violations and Flight from Officer

Release Date: 04/23/2019

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents arrested a Port Sulphur man for alleged commercial fishing violations and flight from an officer on April 15 in Plaquemines Parish.

Agents arrested James A. Phillips, 66, for taking oysters from a polluted area, taking oysters from unleased state water bottoms, intentional concealment of wildlife, reckless operation of a vessel, and flight from an officer.

An agent was on patrol on April 4 in Grand Bayou when he observed a vessel actively dredging for oysters in a closed polluted area on unleased state water bottoms.  The agent attempted to stop the vessel, but Phillips quickly pulled up his dredges and led the agent on a vessel pursuit through the marsh.

While in pursuit of Phillips, the agent observed other men on board dumping oysters into the water.  The agent chased the vessel into Sicola Canal #2 where Phillips and the other three occupants abandoned the vessel and ran down the levee.

The agent found white oyster tags with Phillips’ harvester ID on the vessel indicating the oysters were going to hit the market intended for raw consumption.  The GPS coordinates of where these oysters were harvested were inside the polluted area that was closed by the Department of Health and Hospitals.

LDWF agents obtained an arrest warrant on April 15 and set up an arrangement for Phillips to turn himself into authorities.  Phillips was subsequently booked into the Plaquemines Parish Jail.

Taking oysters from a polluted area, taking oysters from unleased state water bottoms and intentional concealment of wildlife each carries up to a $950 fine and 120 days in jail for each offense.  Reckless operation of a vessel brings up to a $200 fine and 90 days in jail.  Flight from an officer carries up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.

Phillips also faces having his oyster harvester license revoked and not be present on a vessel harvesting or processing oysters for up to three years if convicted.  He can also be sentenced to perform no less than 90 hours of community service.

The investigation is still ongoing to apprehend the three other occupants that accompanied Phillips on the vessel.