Seattle-based American Seafoods Co. and the owners of its fish-processing vessels were fined nearly $1 million by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late September for multiple violations of the Clean Water Act.
The companies were cited by the EPA on Sept. 28 for hundreds of violations, including discharging waste in the protected Heceta/Stonewall Banks complex along the Oregon coast, failure to monitor its discharges and missing or inaccurate information in required annual reports.
Ed Kowalski, director of the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division in Seattle, said that in amassing hundreds of violations—from illegal discharges to sloppy and even non-existent record-keeping—that American Seafoods had demonstrated a clear disregard for the fragile and valuable resources that sustain its business.
In a statement, the EPA said that discharge of seafood processing waste in prohibited areas and within the 100-meter depth contour of Washington and Oregon exacerbates already existing low-oxygen conditions, which negatively impact most fish, crabs and other marine life.
American Seafoods and the owners of its vessels stood out from the other Oregon and Washington offshore fish processors in the number and severity of violations, the EPA said. The vessels were identified as American Dynasty, American Triumph, Northern Eagle, Northern Jaeger and Ocean Rover.
Under separate consent agreements, the companies are required to pay $999,000 in penalties. An administrative order requires that in addition to the financial penalties, that the companies enact corporate-wide, systemic improvements to ensure compliance with permits.