American Seafoods charged with scale tampering
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has filed charges against Seattle-based American Seafoods, arguing the company tampered with scales to skew reported tonnage in their favor.
NOAA issued the charges on 8 May to American Seafoods subsidiary catcher/processor vessels Ocean Rover and Northern Eagle. The company uses the scales in question to weigh Alaskan Pollock, and record accurate weights of catches.
“The respondents in these cases are alleged to have adjusted their flow scales to record lower weights, and then recorded these inaccurate weights in their logbooks,” NOAA said in a statement explaining the charges.
The lower weights, according to NOAA, allowed the fishermen to catch more than their limits.
“We are enforcing regulations at all levels of industry,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Matthew Brown. “Our focus is not on the ‘big guy’ or the ‘little guy.’ Our focus is on the damage to the resource. Violations of this magnitude have the potential to severely impact fisheries if left unchecked.”
NOAA is seeking penalties of USD 848,000 (EUR 655,480) against the Ocean Rover case, and over USD 1.3 million (EUR 1 million) in the Northern Eagle case.
American Seafoods has faced charges like these before. In January 2012, NOAA issued a notice of violation to the American Dynasty, another catcher/processor for American Seafoods. The case, which is still ongoing, could cost the vessel a fine of USD 543,500 (EUR 420,110).