NOAA sero-00-033
Contact: Chris Smith


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has charged a South Carolina fisherman and the commercial vessel's owner with violating the South Atlantic snapper-grouper regulations by unlawfully fishing for, harvesting or possessing red porgy and by unlawfully possessing an undersized scamp grouper.

NOAA assessed a $2,100 civil penalty against the operator of the fishing vessel Still Crazy IV, Paul David Tasker, and the vessel's owner, Heidt, Inc., both of Murrells Inlet, S.C. Tasker and Heidt, Inc., have 30 days from the date they are notified of the penalty to either pay the penalty, seek to have the assessment modified, or request a hearing before an administrative law judge to deny or contest all or any part of the charges and the penalties assessed. The agency is also seeking forfeiture of the 12 red porgy and 1 scamp grouper that were seized in connection with the charges.

Since Sept. 8, 1999, an emergency interim rule has been in effect that prohibits the harvest and possession of red porgy in or from the United States exclusive economic zone off the southern Atlantic states. The rule has been extended to be in effect through August 28, 2000. The intended effect of the rule is to protect and foster the recovery of the red porgy resource, which is currently overfished.

The violations took place on March 30, 2000, when a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officer boarded the vessel at Murrells Inlet and found the red porgy and undersized scamp grouper on the vessel. Subsequent investigation by NOAA Fisheries Enforcement determined that the fish had been harvested in the EEZ off of South Carolina.

"The discovery and investigation of these violations was done through the outstanding partnership between the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and NOAA Fisheries Enforcement," said Senior Enforcement Attorney Karen Antrim Raine of NOAA's Office of General Counsel who is prosecuting the case. "Fishermen must know that illegal fishing activities will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted. Laws that are intended to protect our precious marine resources so that we and future generations can continue to enjoy the sea's bounty will be enforced."

NOAA Fisheries urges citizens to report fishery violations during weekly business hours of 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 a.m. Eastern, to its Southeast Region Law Enforcement Division at (727) 570-5344, or after hours and weekends at its National Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964.

NOAA Fisheries is an agency of the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency conducts scientific research and provides services and products to support fisheries management, fisheries development, trade, and industry assistance, enforcement, and protected species and habitat conservation programs.