Weekly Highlights - November 20, 2017
Read about this week's enforcement actions from around the country.
A special agent issued a summary settlement offer for $8,428.90 to a vessel operator for landing more than 300,000 pounds of pollock in a calendar day.
An enforcement officer issued multiple summary settlements to charter anglers for retaining halibut over the annual limit.
An enforcement officer performed a pre-boarding audit of a vessel from a prior notice of landing and determined that the vessel operator had not logged the trip with the Observer Declare and Deploy System. Upon arriving at the dock, the enforcement officer also noticed that the vessel was in violation of state law for not having ADF&G numbers on display. He notified the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, who arrived at the dock to conduct the boarding and audit with the NOAA enforcement officer. The team discovered several violations. These included failure to maintain a logbook, not registering with the Observer Declare and Deploy System, attempting to land a processed halibut (head off), a crewmember with expired deckhand license, and failure to properly display ADF&G numbers after a previous warning. Summary settlements and state citations were issued.
- Michael Papajohn was sentenced to 1-year probation for his involvement in a conspiracy to harvest, transfer and sell approximately twenty Bluefin tuna in violation of the Lacey Act. A second defendant in the case, Greg Jost was sentenced to 1-year probation, a $3,000 fine, and a $25 special assessment for his involvement in the conspiracy.
- An Enforcement Officer issued a commercial fishing vessel a $600 summary settlement for maintaining an inaccurate trip report and possessing an undersized lobster. The vessel attempted to conceal scallop meats in a cooler beneath ice and beverages.
- An Enforcement Officer received confirmation that a $500 summary settlement was paid by a New Jersey recreational fisherman for Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan violations.
- An Enforcement Officer provided compliance assistance to a charter boat captain who landed a swordfish that was not reported within 24 hours. The fish was reported shortly after the conversation.
Pacific Islands Division
- A Special Agent closed an investigation on a U. S. longline fishing vessel operator and the owner who were issued a NOVA for conducting multiple fishing operations inside the Main Hawaiian Island Longline Prohibited Area. An administrative hearing was held in U.S. Federal District Court where PID’s VMS Manager provided expert witness testimony about the vessel’s VMS data depicting a characteristic VMS “signature” indicating a longline fishing set. The administrative judge subsequently issued a favorable decision and found liability against the vessel for setting its gear within the MHI Longline Prohibited Area.
- An Enforcement Officer flew to Palmyra Atoll onboard a USCG C-130 in search of a foreign fishing vessel operating inside the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone. The EO and U.S. Coast Guard team utilized all the C-130’s systems in an attempt to locate the vessel but after two hours of searching the area, no vessels were found.
- An Enforcement Officer conducted an audit of a fish offload by a foreign fishing vessel with Guam’s Customs MITF Unit, a JEA Partner. The EO and MITF monitored the offload over a 2 day period. A re-boarding and inspection of the FFV were conducted once the offload was complete. No violations were found.
- An enforcement officer conducted a land patrol of local boat ramps, docks, and federally permitted dealers in the Port Orange to St. Augustine, FL area. Due to weather and high northeast winds there was little activity. Two commercial fishing vessels were boarded with no violations found.
- A special agent assisted the Colonel of the North Carolina Marine Patrol (NCMP), who requested information on the importation of dead coral from Italy. The NCMP received a request for this information from an NC Resident, who wanted to know if there were any specific permits necessary to do this before he began making international purchases. Since the State of North Carolina does not have any regulations governing this, the request for federal assistance was made. The NC special agent is working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on this matter.
- An enforcement officer assisted the U.S. Coast Guard regarding an electronic device that was found washed up on Jekyll Island Beach that was believed to potentially be used for fishing. Swab tests of the device tested positive for explosives. Internet searches revealed that similar devices are used for fishing, known as a kite, kontiki, or fishing torpedo. The devices are used to set a long line with approximately 25 hooks or more.
West Coast Division
- Two Special Agents conducted an interview of the captain and mate of a catcher/processor regarding allegations of observer harassment by one of the vessel crewmembers. The captain said he immediately fired the crewmember once he learned of the allegations against the crewmember.
- A Special Agent completed an investigation involving a U.S. purse seiner alleged to have discarded tuna in violations of Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission conservation measures. The captain said it was because the fish was broken or smashed. Discarding tuna unfit for human consumption is permitted under the IATTC rules.