A Look Into The Role Of Fisheries Observers – Today @ 12:20 PST/3:20 EST on OPB.org

On August 13, deck boss Richard Clayton Palek was arrested and charged with a federal misdemeanor violation of a law that prohibits anyone from forcibly assaulting, resisting, opposing, intimidating, sexually harassing, bribing, or interfering with a fishery observer. Palek allegedly threatened and physically assaulted the observer.  TODAY @ 12:20 PST/3:20 EST   NOAA Fisheries@NOAAFisheries 35m  “Think Out Loud”: bit.ly/1pMf55M  10:22

  • borehead

    I was poking around, and saw this comment, which is so bizarre I say he’s a bald faced liar.

    flounder • 2 hours ago

    I am a former fisheries observer. While I had many wonderful days at sea and pleasant experiences with fishing crews, I also had my share of negative experiences.

    The most harrowing incident occurred on a fishing vessel out of New England in early March a couple of years ago. I was the sole observer on a squid trawler. The crew was friendly for the most part, with the exception of the captain. He repeatedly lied about the catch, attempted to intimidate me, and was generally hostile and verbally abusive.

    We caught a dolphin on the last haul of the trip, 11 days in. The trip was longer than expected, and morale was low for the whole crew. I could tell the deckhands were worn down from the captain’s abusive comments. I had formed a friendly relationship with one of the deckhands over the course of the trip. I gathered that he had struggled with addiction and mental health issues, but seemed to be on an upswing. He and another deckhand were there to help me move the dolphin so I could examine it for my records. As we were moving the dolphin, and without notice or reason, he suddenly thrust his shoulder into my chest, sending me into the frigid water. A few terrifying moments passed where I could feel the propellers whipping beneath my legs, and then the two deckhands pulled me back onto the boat, saving my life. To this day, I am not sure whether the friendly deckhand’s action was intentional or not.

    I will never know, because the next day as we were headed in to port, a Coast Guard vessel approached for a routine stop. The deckhand grabbed two metal shackles off the deck, wrapped them around his hands, and jumped overboard. His body was never recovered.

    To my knowledge, the captain was never charged with anything under the Magnusson Stevens Act, perhaps because the search for the missing deckhand overshadowed the contributions that the captain made to the hostile environment. A fishing boat can seem completely detached from law and land at times, and while I’m thankful that the Magnusson Stevens Act provides protection to observers, protection is dearly needed. For everyone aboard.