FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Chris Smith
News Releases 2003
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A ten-count Notice of Violation and Assessment (NOVA) and a Notice of Permit Sanction was issued by NOAA’s Office of General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation (GCEL) to Mastry’s Bait and Tackle, Inc., of St. Petersburg, Fla., for alleged violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The alleged violation occurred when Mastry’s unlawfully purchased reef fish harvested in federally managed waters from recreational fishermen fishing aboard the headboat FV Florida Fisherman II. Mastry’s failed to maintain records regarding these purchases, as required. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency of the Commerce Department.
These civil penalties, totaling $105,000 and a 300-day permit sanction, were the result of a joint investigation conducted by NOAA Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement (OLE) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC). The permit sanction prevents violators from fishing in federal waters during the specified time-period.
Similarly, Nachmans Native Seafood, Inc. of Seminole, Fla. was assessed a $5,000 NOVA and a 30-day Permit Sanction, and Matoi Sushi, Inc., a restaurant in Tampa, Fla., was issued a $7,500 NOVA for purchasing recreationally caught reef fish.
The 12 recreational fishermen alleged to have sold these fish to the dealers were also penalized $1,500 for each count of illegally selling the reef fish to Mastry Bait and Tackle, Inc., Nachman’s Native Seafood, Inc., Madeira Beach Seafood, and Matoi Sushi. Several fishermen had multiple-count penalties.
All recipients of a Permit Sanction and Notice of Violation and Assessment have 30 days to request a hearing on the allegations and assessments.
The FWCC initiated the investigation after receiving complaints that recreational fishermen from aboard the headboat FV Florida Fisherman II were unlawfully selling reef fish caught in the Gulf’s Economic Exclusion Zone.
Gulf reef fish are subject to annual quotas split between the commercial and recreational fisheries as determined by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Only reef fish harvested under the commercial quota may be sold. Recreational fishermen are subject to individual catch limits, and a Gulf reef fish possessed under the catch limits may not be sold or purchased.
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.
On the Web:
NOAA Fisheries: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov
Marine Mammal Viewing: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/MMWatch/MMViewing.html