|NOAA SERO 99-53
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Chris Smith
Seafood Dealer; Vessel Owner To Pay $800,000 for Federal Fishery Violations
Two Pensacola, Fla. corporations collectively charged with over one hundred counts of federal fisheries violations have agreed to pay $800,000 in penalties, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today.
"The serious violations committed by these two corporations, particularly the falsified records, undermine the very integrity of NOAA's management regime and will not be tolerated," said Bill Hogarth, southeast regional administrator of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, the agency that manages marine resources in federal waters.
"Falsifying records of red snapper landings hurts honest fishermen and subverts our efforts to rebuild this prized species," said NOAA Enforcement Attorney Cynthia S. Fenyk, who prosecuted the case. "The $800,000 in fines demonstrate our commitment to protecting these resources from those who would abuse them."
A. C. Williams, Jr., A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc., and A. C. Williams Corporation, Inc., admitted to multiple violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Lacey Act, and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act and agreed to the $800,000 settlement. A. C. Williams, Jr. and A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc., the seafood dealer, admitted to:
A. C. Williams, Jr. and A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc. engaged in 576 closed season purchases from twenty-five boats after 375 vessel trips in 1996 and 1997.
A. C. Williams Corporation, Inc., owner of five of the supplying vessels, admitted to:
Vessels owned by A. C. Williams Corporation, Inc. engaged in 155 commercial closure sales of red snapper after 102 vessel trips in 1996 and 1997.
"I'm particularly pleased with the work of NOAA Special Agent Allan Coker, who followed informant leads and obtained the administrative search warrant that yielded the evidence supporting the charges, " said Special Agent-in-Charge of NOAA's Southeast Enforcement Division Eugene F. Proulx. "In addition, Officers of the Pensacola office of the newly formed Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Marine Enforcement Bureau, formerly the Florida Marine Patrol, provided invaluable assistance in this inter-agency effort to protect our severely overfished red snapper fishery."
A. C. Williams, Jr., A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc., and A. C. Williams Corporation, Inc. agreed to collectively pay the penalty by December 31, 1999, and A. C. Williams, Jr. agreed to refrain from dealing in federally regulated species of fish in any capacity and at any location for a period of three months. A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc. also forfeited $3,694.75 from the seizure of assorted reef fish purchased without a federal dealers permit.
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.