(CORDOVA, Alaska) - Fishermen's Finest Inc., a Washington based corporation and owner/operator of multiple commercial trawling vessels, pleaded guilty in a Cordova Court yesterday to illegal fishing with Non-Pelagic Trawl gear in state waters that were closed to the use of trawl gear.
An investigation initiated by the Alaska Wildlife Troopers Statewide Wildlife Investigations Unit revealed that on two occasions, in July of 2010 and again in July of 2011, the F/V US Intrepid harvested a total of over 56,000 pounds of lingcod by catch in waters of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska by use of Non-Pelagic Trawl gear during a federal fishery. While a majority of the lingcod was released, 11,000 pounds were retained and sold commercially, running the corporation afoul with state law. The F/V US Intrepid is a 186 foot catcher/processer vessel owned and operated by Fishermen's Finest Inc.
As part of a plea agreement with the State of Alaska, Fishermen's Finest was sentenced to pay a fine of $12,500 and an additional $2,500 suspended with a probationary period of three years. In addition, the company was ordered to forfeit proceeds from the illegally taken catch in an amount of $10,326.
"In just one week, this one vessel illegally harvested approximately 70 percent of the entire lingcod quota for the Super Exclusive Icy Bay Subdistrict Lingcod fishery," said Alaska Wildlife Troopers Sergeant Brent Johnson. "This case highlights the importance of Wildlife Investigations Unit as it was specifically created to investigate these types of high value cases involving commercial users of Alaska's fish and wildlife resources."