US tuna fishing company fined USD 1.6 million for illegal waste dumping

Published on
November 2, 2016

U.S.-based tuna fishing company Pacific Breeze Fisheries, LLC, has been accuised by the U.S. Department of Justice of discharging oily waste into South Pacific waters near American Samoa and of maintaining false records of the events, leaving the company on the hook to pay a USD 1.6 million (EUR 1.44 million) fine, according to a report from Ship and Bunker.

The tuna company admitted that on two separate occasions, one in 2014 and the other in 2015, its engineers released oily bilge water into American Samoan waters, and then failed to properly document the acts. Pacific Breeze also admitted that its senior engineers did not properly document instances of oil waste disposal in the ship’s Oil Record Book from the period between October 2014 and July 2015, according to court documents.

Pacific Breeze will pay USD 400,000 (EUR 360,644) to the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, in addition to the USD 1.6 million (EUR 1.44 million) fine. While the company does not currently manage any active fishing vessels, it has vowed to implement “an ‘extensive’ environmental compliance plan should it resume operations,” reported Ship and Bunker.

Allegedly, on 25 October, former Pacific Breeze Chief Engineer Jeon Seon Han pleaded guilty in the District of Hawaii to obstructing the U.S. Coast Guard’s inspection of the vessel in question 2015. It is believed that Han lied to Coast Guard authorities regarding the procedures followed with respect to the disposal of waste abroad the ship, and ordered that an illegal discharge system be disassembled before inspectors could investigate. Han’s sentencing is tentatively scheduled for February 2017.

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