Kodiak Harvester Sentenced for Falsifying Fishing Records

A veteran commercial harvester from Kodiak, Alaska, will serve six months in federal prison and pay a $1 million fine for violating the Lacey Act by falsifying records about his halibut and sablefish catch from 2014 to 2017.

James Aaron Stevens, 47, owner and captain of the f/v Alaskan Star and f/v Southern Seas, was also ordered to spend 126 days in a halfway house, perform 80 hours of community service and to make a public service announcement acknowledging his wrongdoing. The sentence was handed down in early August by U.S. District Judge Joshua M. Kindred in Anchorage.

According to court documents, Stevens falsely numerous individual fishing quota (IFQ) documents, including Alaska Department of Fish and Game fish tickets and fishing logbooks, on where he harvested 903-208 pounds of IFQ halibut and sablefish. The offense was committed during 26 fishing trips spanning four IFQ fishing seasons from 2014 through 2017.

Court documents show that taken together the catch that Stevens falsely reported had an approximate value of $4,522,210 and market value of $13,566,630. The falsely labeled fish from those trips that Stevens sold was or intended to be transported in interstate and foreign commerce, court documents said.

“Criminals who violate the Lacey Act for their own personal gain harm both the resource itself and those who either depend on it for their livelihood or their subsistence lifestyle, said Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska Bryan Wilson. “Our office will continue to aggressively prosecute individual who engage in falsifying fishery records.”

The Lacey Act is a federal conservation law that prohibits trade in fish, wildlife and plants that are taken, possessed, transported or sold illegally.