Kodiak Fisherman Sentenced to Federal Jail and Fined $ 1 Million for Falsifying Fishing Logs | USAO-AK
ANCHORAGE – A man in Kodiak, Alaska was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joshua M. Kindred to six months federal prison, a fine of $ 1,000,000, 126 days in a halfway house and 80 hours of labor of general interest. He must also make a public service announcement acknowledging his wrongdoing for knowingly submitting false records on halibut and sablefish.
According to court documents, James Aaron Stevens, 47, an experienced commercial fisherman, vessel owner and captain, pleaded guilty in November 2020 to falsely tagging fish in violation of the Lacey Act.
Stevens, owner and operator of the F / V Alaskan Star and the F / V Southern Seas, falsely reported the location where he caught 903,208 pounds of halibut and individual fishing quota (IFQ) sablefish. Stevens knowingly forged numerous documents – IFQ landing reports, fishing tickets and fishing logs from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game – to show that he caught fish in places and areas regulations where he did not fish and omitted areas where he actually fished. Stevens committed this offense during 26 fishing trips spanning four IFQ fishing seasons (2014-2017). Together, the halibut and sablefish falsely reported by Stevens had an approximate dockside value of $ 4,522,210 and a market value of $ 13,566,630. Stevens sold the falsely tagged fish caught during these voyages, which was, or was intended to be, transported in interstate and foreign trade.
“Fishing is at the heart of Alaska and we must all strive to protect this important resource. Criminals who break the Lacy Law for personal gain harm both the resource itself and those who depend on it for their livelihood or way of life, ”said Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Wilson, District of Lacy. ‘Alaska. “Our office will continue to aggressively prosecute individuals who engage in falsifying fishing logs. “
“Alaska is known for its world-class sustainable fisheries based on scientific management and honest fishermen who play by the rules,” said Will Ellis, deputy director of the NOAA Enforcement Office, Division of Alaska. “This condemnation should serve as a reminder that there are grave consequences for those who break the rules, and that NOAA OLE is committed to holding those who cheat the system accountable.”
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement conducted the investigation which led to the successful prosecution of the case.
US Assistant Prosecutor Adam Alexander and Andrea Hattan, Special Assistant US Attorney, NOAA Office of the Attorney General’s Enforcement Section, continued the case.