The State of Alaska filed criminal misdemeanor charges May 12 against a vessel operator for operating non-pelagic trawl gear within the Kodiak, Alaska, ground fish registration area, according to Coast Guard officials. 

“The trawl gear used in the area during the April 16 incident had attached chafing gear and chain rib lines suitable for fishing in contact with the seabed, all devices not authorized for legal pelagic trawl gear,” according to a Coast Guard statement released Monday. “A multi-agency law enforcement team embarked aboard Coast Guard Cutter Naushon boarded the trawler…and issued several significant fisheries violations.”

"In response to the boarding, NOAA opened an investigation into the vessel for fishing in federal waters closed to non-pelagic trawl gear around Kodiak," said Phillip Null, supervisory enforcement officer, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA OLE).

Prior to the boarding, NOAA OLE officers notified the Naushon crew and Alaska Wildlife Troopers (AWT) that a fishing vessel had been operating in the Barnabas bottom trawl closure area, which is located on the south end of Kodiak Island. The Naushon crew boarded the 88-foot fishing vessel as it neared the city of Kodiak and discovered evidence of nonpelagic trawling inside the closure area.

The Coast Guard boarding team determined that the fishing vessel was in violation for trawling in the Barnabas closure area while having a non-pelagic (bottom) trawl on board. The Coast Guard did not release the name of the vessel or operator.

“Once the initial violation was discovered by our boarding team, NOAA OLE and AWT officers embarked the vessel to collect evidence and document violations of state and federal law,” said Lt. Will Singletary, Naushon’s commanding officer. “The interagency cooperation with NOAA OLE and the AWTs is essential to our operational success and certainly strengthens our enforcement capabilities.”

“This violation is significant in the potential it has for negatively effecting important habitat,” said Sgt. Josh Boyle of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers.

The 17th Coast Guard District’s fisheries mission is to promote a level playing field in Alaska’s extremely valuable commercial fisheries, protect resources, and ensure safety of life at sea. Inter-agency collaboration is crucial to detecting and documenting violations in the complex geographic and regulatory landscape of Alaska’s commercial fisheries.

The Coast Guard Cutter Naushon is a 110-foot Island Class patrol boat homeported in Homer. 

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