Fishermen’s Finest Pleads Guilty to Illegal Fishing

A Kirkland, Washington based corporation that operates two
commercial trawling vessels in Alaska waters has pleaded guilty in court in
Cordova, Alaska, to illegal fishing with non-pelagic trawl gear in state waters
closed to trawl gear use.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers’ investigations unit said their
investigation revealed that in July of 2010 and again in July of 2011, the F/V
US Intrepid
, owned by Fishermen’s Finest LLC, harvested a total of over
56,000 pounds of lingcod by catch in waters of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska using
non-pelagic trawl gear during a federal fishery.
While a majority of the lingcod was released, 11,000 pounds
were retained and sold commercially, running the corporation afoul with state
law, troopers said.
As part of a plea agreement with the state of Alaska reached
on April 21, Fishermen’s Finest was sentenced to pay a fine of $12,500, and an
additional $2,500 suspended with a probationary period of three years.  The company was also ordered to forfeit
proceeds from the sale of the illegal catch in the amount of $10,326, troopers
“In just one week, this one vessel illegally harvested
approximately 70 percent of the entire lingcod quota for the Super Exclusive
Icy Bay Subdistrict Lingcod fishery,” said Alaska Wildlife Troopers Sgt. Brent
Johnson. “This case highlights the importance of Wildlife Investigations Unit
as it was specifically created to investigate these types of high value cases
involving commercial users of Alaska’s fish and wildlife resources.”
Fishermen’s Finest, an independent American fishing company,
manages two catcher/processor vessels in the bottomfish fisheries of the North
Pacific and Bering Sea, the 185-foot F/V U.S. Intrepid, with 44 crew, and
the 160-foot F/V American #1, with a crew of 39 workers.

Lingcod are a fish of the greenling family unique to the
west coast of north America, from the Shumagin Islands in the Gulf of Alaska to
Baja California, Mexico. Lingcod is well known for its cod-like white, flaky