Weekly Highlights - October 2, 2017
Read about this week's enforcement actions from around the country.
- An enforcement officer worked with the Alaska Department of Public Safety, aviation section to conduct a Cook Inlet beluga patrol aimed at recovering a deceased beluga calf, and investigating another dead beluga whale, reported having a line wrapped around its tale. The patrol was not able to find or recover the calf, but the other whale was determined to have died without obvious human interactions and no line was present on the body. The patrol was also able to respond to three other stranding calls during the flight.
- A special agent met with two IFQ holders who misreported area of catch to avoid an IFQ halibut overage. After some thought, the permit holders self-reported the overage. The permit holders were allowed to correct the report and the special agent issued a summary settlement for the overage.
- An enforcement officer was notified about a large humpback whale stranding at a popular recreation and tourist location. The enforcement officer placed a barrier around the whale for public protection and scene preservation. NOAA Protected Resources Division will perform a necropsy to determine cause of death
- Carlos Rafael, the owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the United States, was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release, during which time he is banned from working in the fishing industry. The Court also ordered Rafael to pay a fine of $200,000 and restitution to the U.S. Treasury of $108,929. Rafael may also be subject to forfeiture of a portion of his fishing fleet, but the Court held that issue for further consideration. In March, Rafael pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit offenses against the United States, 23 counts of false labeling and fish identification (Lacey Act), two counts of falsifying federal records, one count of bulk cash smuggling, and one count of tax evasion.
- An EO issued a New Jersey recreational fisherman a $1,350 summary settlement for possessing an overage of Bluefin tuna and failing to land Bluefin tuna in proper form.
- An EO issued a $750 summary settlement to a dealer buying from federal boats without a current federal dealer permit and failure to report violations.
- An EO issued a $2,500 summary settlement for observer refusal. The SS was issued after the captain received a selection letter and was reminded of the requirement on a total of four separate occasions.
Pacific Islands Division
A Special Agent and an Enforcement Officer traveled to the island of Molokai to conduct a further investigation of a Hawaiian Monk Seal (RH-74) found bludgeoned to death last month on a remote and rocky beach known as Mo’omomi Beach located on the north shore.
An Enforcement Officer and a Special Agent attended a public community-based fishing enforcement meeting at Mo’omomi Beach Pavillion. Those in attendance were members from the State of Hawaii Department of Aquatics Resources (DAR), Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), and commercial and recreational fishermen.
- A Galveston enforcement officer reviewed and forwarded four JEA submitted case packages for supervisory review resulting in summary settlements totaling $2,625. The case packages consisted of out of season gray triggerfish and an expired commercial reef fish permit.
- Two enforcement officers served a summery settlement for $1,000 to a charter boat captain that had killed and landed a prohibited sandbar shark. The individual also had an expired Highly Migratory Species Permit at the time but was not charged since he had since obtained one.
- A Galveston enforcement officer reviewed two JEA submitted case packages and provided compliance assistance to two different captains in violation of their prior notice of landings. Both captains were educated on the current federal laws and regulations regarding when they are permitted to land after providing a prior notice of landing.
West Coast Division
- Oregon State Police notified WCD enforcement officers to an angler in possession of an ESA-protected wild Coho salmon in Winchester Bay, Oregon. Officers contacted the subject and offered a $450 summary settlement. The subject accepted the offer and forfeited the Coho salmon.
- Enforcement Officers patrolled the Charleston, Oregon boat basin and boarded nine commercial fishing boats participating in the HMS fishery. Four fishing vessels were out of compliance with logbook and landing report requirements. After it was determined the owners/operators had no prior violations, they were issued written warnings.