Virginia Charter Boat Captain Sentenced For Illegal Harvest Of Striped Bass
NORFOLK, Va. – Raymond Carroll Webb, 54, of White Stone, Va., and his company, Peak Enterprises, were both sentenced to a three-year term of probation and were ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and $1,000 in restitution to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for trafficking in illegally-harvested striped bass. The $3,000 fine was directed to the Lacey Act reward account which provides rewards to persons who report wildlife crime to law enforcement. Webb and Peake Enterprises were ordered to maintain a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) unit on any vessel if used for charter fishing during the term of their probation. The VMS unit will allow law enforcement officers to track the vessel in real-time.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment & Natural Resources Division, and Logan Gregory, Special Agent in Charge for NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement’s Northeast Division, made the announcement after sentencing by U. S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen.
On January 28, 2013, Webb and Peake Enterprises each pled guilty to violation of the Lacey Act in the United States District Court in Norfolk, Virginia. The Lacey Act, among other things, makes it unlawful for any person to transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of the United States. Since 1990, federal law has made it unlawful to fish for, catch, or possess striped bass in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The laws were passed in response to a decline in the striped bass populations in the late 1970’s and are designed to protect and preserve striped bass for future generations.
According to the plea agreement, Webb and Peake Enterprises admitted that they sold a chartered Striped Bass fishing trip on February 12, 2011. After departing from Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Webb knowingly took his charter clients into the EEZ to harvest striped bass, even though Webb knew that it was a violation of federal law to harvest striped bass inside the EEZ. Webb’ clients illegally harvested striped bass within the EEZ. At some point during the trip, Webb learned that there were Virginia Marine Police patrol boats in the area. Upon learning this, Webb ordered his first-mate to throw the all of the striped bass overboard to avoid detection by law enforcement.
This case was investigated by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and the Virginia Marine Police with assistance from the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau, Norfolk Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney James B. Nelson of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.