NOAA 2002-AK105
Contact: Sheela McLean
NOAA News Releases 2002
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of General Counsel in Juneau has penalized Saltwater, Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska $22,000 for failure to report harassment of a fisheries observer within 24 hours of becoming aware of the problem and a separate observer performance problem. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

NOAA and Saltwater Inc. entered into a settlement agreement to resolve violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act that pertain to observers and to the companies who hire and train observers. Observers are people who work onboard fishing vessels to keep track of fish catch and bycatch in the federal fishing industry.

Saltwater accepted a penalty of $12,000, with an additional $10,000 suspended and discharged at the end of two years providing Saltwater does not commit further violations of the same regulation. Saltwater cooperated in the investigation and expressed a strong interest in ensuring that Saltwater's employees comply with National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) reporting requirements. NOAA intends to facilitate a meeting with observer providers to develop guidance for complying with observer contractor regulations.

In April of 2000, NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement, Anchorage Division, received a report that a NOAA Fisheries observer was being harassed at Peter Pan Seafoods' processing plant in King Cove, Alaska. Saltwater failed to report that harassment within 24 hours of becoming aware of it. A second violation occurred when Saltwater failed to report an observer experiencing problems with her vision within 24 hours of discovering the problem.

The case was referred to the NOAA Office of General Counsel for prosecution.

"The regulations are designed to ensure that NOAA Fisheries is aware when observers are experiencing any type of harassment or other problems that could undermine their ability to collect fisheries data deemed essential to managing the fishery,” said to NOAA Fisheries Special Agent Mark Kirkland. “Protecting observers is one of the highest enforcement priorities for the Alaska Enforcement Division."

NOAA Fisheries-certified groundfish observers play a vital role in providing real time data to NOAA Fisheries for effective conservation and management of Alaska’s federal fishery resources.

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat.

To learn more about NOAA Fisheries in Alaska, please visit our website at: