Tag Archives: NOAA Office of Law Enforcement

Tally’s hauls big tuna from the woods

What would you do if you came across a 400-pound tuna in the woods? Perhaps a better question: What in the world was a dead tuna doing in the woods in the vicinity of Revere Street? Those are just some of the questions the Massachusetts Environmental Police and NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement are trying to answer in their investigation of who dumped the headless giant tuna in the woods. “I can’t really discuss it because it’s an ongoing investigation,” said Maj. Patrick Moran of the Environmental Police. Ditto for NOAA Fisheries’ law enforcement folks click here to read the story 18:30

Wanchese fisherman pleads guilty to federal charges

Gaston L. Saunders, 53, of Wanchese, pled guilty on Aug. 3 to federal charges regarding the illegal harvest and sale of Atlantic striped bass from federal waters. The charges stem from a 2010 Lacey Act investigation by NOAA, assisted by the Coast Guard. Since 1990, there has been a ban on harvesting Atlantic striped bass in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which spans between three miles and 200 miles seaward of the coastline. Eleven other commercial fishermen have entered guilty pleas for conduct uncovered in the investigation. Saunders also pled guilty to one count of federal tax evasion and three counts of failure to file federal taxes. In the plea agreement, he agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $544,946.35 payable to the Internal Revenue Service. A sentencing hearing will be set at a later date. Saunders faces a total maximum sentence of 13 years imprisonment and/or a $800,000 fine. click here to read the story 14:19

GARFO says, Meet our Enforcement Compliance Liaison!

donAbout five years ago, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) in the Northeast Region strengthened its compliance assistance and outreach efforts by creating a new Compliance Liaison position. This position supports OLE’s goal of ensuring that those who obey the rules reap the benefits of fair competition and an even playing field in the market. (thank you Jihad Jane!) With 23 years of experience as a commercial fisherman for scallops and groundfish, and 10 years with our Sustainable Fisheries Division, Don Frei is a perfect fit for this job. Not only is he familiar with the needs of the fishing industry, but he knows a lot about fisheries management and regulations. As Compliance Liaison, it’s Don’s job to work with the fishing industry to increase both understanding of and compliance with regional fisheries regulations. To do this, Don spends a lot of time on the road talking to people. And he also: Read the rest here 17:46

Following his exit from the IPHC, Kauffman calls violation ‘honest mistake’

IPHC flagAn executive from a Community Development Quota group blamed a regulatory mix-up for the fishing violation that forced him to resign from the international commission regulating halibut harvests. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement charged Jeff Kauffman and two other men in March with possessing more than 10,000 pounds of halibut over their combined quota limits for a violation that occurred in June 2012. Kauffman is the vice president of the Central Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association, the Community Development Quota group for the island of St. Paul. He resigned on June 22. The joint U.S.-Canadian body has governed halibut quotas and regulations by international treaty since 1923, and has three commissioners each from the U.S. and Canada. Kauffman chalked the violation up to a regulatory mix-up. The violation occurred around June 5, 2012, while Kauffman fished for halibut around St. Paul with Mike Baldwin and Wade Henley, the captain of the F/V Saint Peter. CBSFA owns 100 percent of the vessel. Read the story here 14:49

Coast Guard, NOAA resolve two closed area fishing cases for $80,000

uscg logoThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently resolved two civil penalty cases with two separate fishing vessel owners who violated the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act when their crews were found fishing in closed areas. Following up on a referral from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Vessel Monitoring program, a Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod HC-144 crew sighted the fishing vessel Warrior, homeported in New Bedford, Mass., on March 21, 2014 fishing for scallops within Closed Area II Essential Fish Habitat, which is about 120 miles east of Cape Cod, Mass. On April 30, 2013 the fishing vessel Crystal Girl B, a vessel homeported in Cape May, N.J. was also detected fishing for scallops inside Closed Area I, an area about 30 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Mass., by a crew aboard the Coast Guard cutter Tybee. The Warrior owner paid a civil penalty of $39,360 on April 1, 2016 for fishing in a closed area and deficiencies with its vessel monitoring system and the Crystal Girl B owner agreed to pay $40,750 on March 18, 2016 for closed area violations, including fishing in a closed area. Read the rest here 18:39

Bluefin Tuna Early Migration Focuses OLE Officer’s Attention On Compliance, Outreach

Atlantic bluefin tuna are beginning to appear off the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia. The early arrival of the highly sought-after finfish may be generating an enthusiastic stir among fishermen, but the  interest is in ensuring compliance throughout the season. “Bluefin tuna fisheries are among the most highly regulated in the world” said OLE Enforcement Officer Justin Hanacek. “In order to safeguard the species’ stability it’s important to comply with all the regulations intended to protect and manage the population throughout all stages of the migration along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States.” Read the rest here 08:16

Seafood Wholesaler and Company Fined and Owner Sentenced to 26 Months in Prison for Illegally Trafficking in Oysters

clip_image002_001Mark Bryan, 59, of New Market, Maryland, and his Delaware-based seafood wholesale business, Harbor House Seafood, were sentenced on Friday in federal court in Camden, New Jersey, for trafficking in illegally possessed oysters, creating false health and safety records, and conspiracy charges. “Today’s sentence underscores the value that state partnerships add to  ability to complete its mission,” said Assistant Director Logan Gregory for NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement Read the rest here 09:34

Feds Flex Muscle: Oregon charter captain sentenced for harvesting protected salmon

clip_image002_001A Warrenton, Oregon, charter boat captain pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month for harvesting federally protected wild coho salmon on charter trips with sport fishing clients. The year-long investigation by federal and state officers also led to state fish and wildlife charges against the captain of the Hawk II. Read the rest here  09:43

Fishing captain who threatened witness over Facebook sentenced to federal prison for red snapper violation

The captain of a fishing vessel was sentenced to more than five years in prison for charges related to a federal sting set up to catch and sell illegal red snapper and other fish. However, according to court records, Braley also threatened physical violence against a government witness over Facebook, which netted him an additional 63-month sentence. Read more here 19:11

Alabama Man Sentenced for Lacy Act Violations in Red Snapper Case

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Kenyen R. Brown, and NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Tracy A. Dunn announce that David Braley was sentenced yesterday in two related cases. Read more here  A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorneys Office for the Southern District of Alabama here 09:08

Rusty Brace Defeat’s NOAA Office of Law Enforcement on behalf of Jason and Shane Robinson

-5_t479For longtime fishermen Jason and Shane Robinson, the decision saved them from paying more than $17,000 in fines, which is a relatively low amount compared to other penalties, in part because they were only charged with idling in an MPA too long, not for fishing there, which can bring fines of up to $140,000. But the case also revealed what they believe is an unfair culture of guilty until proved innocent when it comes to commercial fishing laws. “They threaten you based on the fact that it costs more to fight these than to accept a settlement,” said Jason. “That’s what they told me, and that’s how they did it. In my mind, this is their ATM machine. … It feels like extortion.” [email protected] 07:25