ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Federal fisheries officials have fined the skipper and backers of an Alaskan fishing boat for falsely reporting where they took halibut and sablefish, and suspended their fishing permits for one year.
NOAA Fisheries service levied $18,000 in fines and $241,000 worth of sanctions over the violations connected to five trips the fishing vessel Trident made during 2006 and 2007, The Dutch Harbor Fisherman reported this week.
"This is certainly one of the largest permit sanctions we've ever sought," said Susan Auer, senior enforcement attorney for NOAA.
Under a program that gives fishermen an ownership stake in a fishery, known as individual fishing quotas, permit holders are allotted amounts of fish they can take from specified areas. The Alaskan halibut fishery was one of the first to adopt the management technique, which is spreading around the country due to evidence it prevents overfishing.
"These violations affect not only the management of Alaska's well-managed halibut and sablefish IFQ fisheries, they are also unfair to the fishermen who abide by the rules and fish in the correct areas," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ken Hansen of NOAA Fisheries law enforcement.
Under terms of a settlement, owners and permit holders of the Trident have agreed to jointly pay $10,000. Owners and permit holders Michael Lang and Barry McKee's sablefish permits were suspended for one year. They were also barred from hiring a skipper to fish their permits.
In a separate action, NOAA Fisheries cited IFQ permit holder Richard Swartz for falsely reporting where the Trident fished. Swartz, who is not an owner of the boat, paid a $8,265 fine and had 2,000 pounds of his sablefish quota suspended for one year.
A third settlement bars Kenneth Spjut of Auburn, Wash., who was captain of the Trident on some of the trips, from serving as the captain of a fishing vessel on the West Coast for five years.
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