by: David Ham Updated:SEATTLE —
Fish and Wildlife officers visited 75 businesses selling and preparing seafood and shellfish for surprise inspections in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
"It's to ensure that all fish and wildlife that's possessed is possessed legally," said Capt. Mike Cenci, of Washington Fish and Wildlife.
During a visit to the Tea Garden restaurant in Seattle officers, seized undocumented salmon in a cardboard box.
"I wouldn't eat it. That salmon has been around time. There was no paperwork to cover it. We don't know what the origin was. It could've been taken close of season, it could've come from a sport fishery, we don't know," said Cenci.
Officers also seized live bullfrogs from the same restaurant.
Live bullfrogs are illegal to possess in Washington because they are an invasive species.
"If released in the wild, certainly that can have an adverse effect on our native flora and fauna," said Cenci.
We asked the owners of Tea Garden about the salmon and frogs and were told the salmon was for their employees. They did say why they had the live bullfrogs or if they were served to customers.
Officers also targeted people selling undocumented salmon off Craigslist in Pierce County.
They seized frozen fish out of one couple's freezer.
"People are, unfortunately, are willing to buy seafood out of a back of a pickup truck from an unlicensed individual that came from God knows where, and that puts your health in jeopardy and it also compromises legitimate industry," said Cenci.
Fish and Wildlife officers recommend consumers always ask for documentation when buying any type of seafood or shellfish that might seem questionable.
The penalty for selling undocumented seafood or shellfish ranges from a simple misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the severity of the case.