FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Chris Smith
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) has charged the owner
A NOAA Protected Resources Enforcement Team (PRET) boarded the fishing vessel TORTUGA VIEJO on April 7 off of Padre Island, Texas to find the escape openings on all four of the trawler's turtle excluder devices (TEDs) sewn shut. This prevented the escape of any sea turtles that may have become entrapped in its nets.
NOAA has assessed a civil penalty of $4,000 against Manuel Gallardo-Castillo, the trawler's operator, and a $4,000 penalty against Chico Boy, Inc., the trawler's owner. Agency attorneys said. Gallardo-Castillo and Chico Boy, Inc. have until 30 days from receipt of our notice to either pay the penalty, seek a modified assessment, or request a hearing before an administrative law judge to deny or contest the charges and the penalties assessed.
In addition, the PRET seized the 2,116 pounds of shrimp aboard the trawler and sold them for $10,124.70. NOAA has filed to seek the forfeiture of the proceeds from the seized shrimp. Anyone who has a claim to the proceeds from the seized catch has until May 11, 1999 to file their claim with NOAA attorneys.
Fisheries Southeast enforcement
chief, Eugene F. Proulx, said the protected resources enforcement
team and agency gear specialists routinely board shrimp trawlers
to assist shrimpers in fine tuning the position of their TEDs
in nets. He said flagrant violations of this nature are unusual.
All six species of sea turtles found in U.S. waters are protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The hawksbill, Kemp's ridley, and leatherback sea turtles are listed as endangered under the ESA. The loggerhead, green and olive ridley sea turtles are listed as threatened, except for breeding populations of green sea turtles in Florida and on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and breeding populations of olive ridley sea turtles on the Pacific coast of Mexico, which are listed as endangered.
NOAA Fisheries urges citizens to report fishery violations during weekly business hours of 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.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.
This and other Southeast Regional news releases and fishery bulletins are available on the region's Internet home page: http://caldera.sero.nmfs.gov or NOAA's Internet home page, http://www.noaa.gov/public-affairs/press99.html.
NOAA Fisheries is an agency of the Commerce Department'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.