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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index
    Release No. 10-081

    May 5 , 2010

    SAN PEDRO FISH COMPANY PLEADS GUILTY TO FALSIFYING DOCUMENTS RELATED TO HARVEST OF PACIFIC SARDINES

    LOS ANGELES – A San Pedro fish canning and packing business has pleaded guilty to federal wildlife trafficking charges for knowingly falsifying landing receipts for Pacific sardines in 2008 and 2009.

    Attorneys for Tri Marine Fish Company appeared yesterday afternoon in federal court and entered guilty pleas to two misdemeanor counts of wildlife trafficking. United States Magistrate Judge Stephen J. Hillman immediately sentenced the company to three years of probation and ordered it to pay a $150,000 criminal fine, which includes approximately $40,000 in restitution that will go to fishing vessel operators and the California Department of Fish and Game. Tri Marine paid the fine yesterday.

    Tri Marine admitted falsifying landing receipts for Pacific sardines brought to dock by several local fishing vessels, including Pacific Bully, Pacific Leader, Paloma, Eileen and Ferrigno Boy. Tri Marine under reported the weight of harvested Pacific sardines landed by nearly 650,000 pounds in September 2008 and during the first two months of 2009.

    This false reporting of landed weights caused the fish to be possessed in violation of state and federal laws requiring the complete and accurate reporting of the harvesting of Pacific sardines to the California Department of Fish and Game. State of California and NOAA Fisheries biologists use harvest data to determine how many tons of sardines may be fished in a given year so that healthy fish stocks are maintained in the ocean for the future. Maintaining sardine stocks is economically important because the species is an income source for commercial fishermen along the west coast, and it is biologically important because Pacific sardines are eaten by a wide variety of fish in the oceanic food chain and depletion of sardine stock would have an enormous impact on the entire fishery.

    Pacific Coast Commercial will receive $4,749.03 in restitution for Pacific Bully and $6,732.51 in restitution for Pacific Leader; Eileen will receive $7,448.42; Paloma will receive $4,690.86; and Ferrigno Boy will receive $16,422.06. The California Department of Fish and Game will receive $4,059 in restitution for tax revenues lost as a result of the falsified receipts.

    The case was investigated by NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and California Department of Fish and Game.

    “NOAA realizes that fishermen work long hours in difficult seas and wants to ensure that they are paid for all the fish they catch and that fish businesses do not take advantage of them,” said Special Agent Michelle Zetwo of NOAA Office of Law Enforcement’s San Diego office.

    The mission of NOAA Office of Law Enforcement is to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations enacted to conserve and protect our nation's marine resources. To report a suspected violation, contact the national hotline at 1-800-853-1964.

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    Release No. 10-081

    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index