Contact: Chris Smith

Fined $10,000 for Violating Federal Fisheries Laws

Dan R. Lindley of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., a repeat offender of fisheries laws, has admitted to violating three counts of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine. The most recent penalty also includes his removal from commercial fishing -- including loss of permits for shark, snapper-grouper species and lobster fisheries -- for the rest of his life. Lindley and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of General Counsel reached the agreement earlier this week.

"I'm most unhappy when irresponsible fishermen violate the privilege of holding a federal permit by engaging in activities that are illegal and harmful to the health and sustainability of our precious marine resources," said NMFS Southeast Regional Administrator William Hogarth. "Thanks to the cooperation of our Coast Guard enforcement partners, the prompt and precise analyses by our scientists in Charleston, and the decisive action of NOAA General Counsel, Mr. Lindley will be out of the fishing business forever."

Lindley, who owns and operates the commercial fishing vessel Diamond Diver, was on a five- year probationary period stemming from previous federal violations. On Aug. 12, 1999, U.S. Coast Guard enforcement officers boarded his vessel and found evidence that Lindley was still engaged in poaching activities, and contacted NOAA investigators for assistance. NOAA Special Agent Dick Smith advised the Coast Guard to escort the Diamond Diver to a dock in Mayport, Fla. for further investigation.

"Upon boarding the Diamond Diver, authorities found and seized dozens of spiny lobster tails that held remnant evidence of eggs. Lindley had attempted to disguise his poaching of these egg-bearing lobsters by stripping the orange egg clusters off the undersides of the tails, a practice that is illegal and frowned upon by all responsible commercial lobster fishermen," said Gene Proulx, special-agent-in-charge of NOAA's Southeast Enforcement Office.

Several fish fillets were also seized for identification. The lobster and fillets were transferred to the NOAA Laboratory in Charleston, S.C., for forensic analysis, where scientists determined that most of the seized lobster tails had been laden with eggs when Lindley harvested them.

Robin Jung of NOAA's Office of General Counsel issued a Notice of Violation and Assessment (NOVA) charging Lindley with the possession of 75 spiny lobster tails that had evidence of egg stripping, the possession of lobster smaller than the minimum size, and maintaining fish that were not intact prior to offloading ashore.

"In a 1996 case that was recently settled, Lindley was charged with 21 counts of violating federal fisheries laws, which resulted in his being assessed a $68,000 fine," said Jung. "The settlement agreement that was reached in that case allowed Lindley to pay a lump sum fine of $35,000 but he had to agree to a 90-day permit sanction and a five-year probationary period. In order to avoid an additional $33,000 monetary liability associated with the new charges, Lindley will never again be allowed to look to the sea for his livelihood."

NOAA Fisheries urges citizens to report fishery violations during business hours (M-F 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. EDT) to its Southeast Region Law Enforcement Division at (727) 570-5344, or after hours by calling its Enforcement Hotline at (800) 853-1964.

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.