Albacora, NOAA reach settlement

After four days of negotiations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday announced it reached a settlement with Europe’s largest tuna fishing company in regards to accusations of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

The result of Spanish company Albacora S.A.’s vessel, Albacora Uno, admitting to 67 counts of fishing inside the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone is the largest civil penalty ever assessed by NOAA.

Originally threatened with a possible USD 7.4 million civil penalty, the USD 5 million will go into the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund.

"This money has the potential to do a lot of good for the region, in particular our territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, which are all struggling economically, in helping them sustainably develop their fishing industry and infrastructure," said Alexa Cole, senior enforcement attorney for NOAA's Pacific Islands region.

In addition to the monetary repercussions, Albacora promised to prohibit the Albacora Uno from entering U.S. waters, even in transit, for three years. The terms also require the company to develop and implement a company-wide monitoring program to ensure future compliance by its vessels.

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