On May 22, Brannon Finney, owner of the crabber-tender-longliner Alaskan Girl (ex-Kamilar), was charged an $8,000 fine, plus a $2,000 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation community service payment, as well as a requirement to complete 40 hours of community service. Finney will also be on probation for 18 months and is required to post a public apology.
Finney had pleaded guilty to one charge of an unlawful discharge of a pollutant in violation of the Clean Water Act. The incident took place on June 15, 2017, en route from Petersburg to Wrangell, Alaska.
Finney, of Bellingham, Wash., was hosting a videographer onboard as a test run for a potential reality show, when she directed her crew to pour 8 tons of sandblasting waste from brailer bags into the Sumner Straits. The mixture included paint chips but was primarily composed of copper slag dust used to remove the paint.
The load would have cost $1,460 to dispose of in port. Finney claims, as she wrote to NF, that she was told the waste was not hazardous and that she had even considered delivering it to her mother as fill for her landscaping. That plan didn't pan out, she says, because she would only have been able to unload it one pickup load at a time. With the season opening bearing down on her, Finney opted to dump the load instead.
The vessel was notorious as the Kamilar for its former owner, Arne Fuglvog, who was sentenced under the federal Lacey Act for falsifying IFQ fish tickets by misreporting fishing areas for halibut and blackcod quota landings. Fuglvog was fined $150,000. Before the conviction, Fuglvog was reportedly floated as a top candidate to head NMFS.
The U.S. Attorney's office announced the decision following Finney's plea deal.
“The quality of our waters is essential to Alaska’s fishing fleet. Fishing is one of the most important parts of our economy," said U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder. "Protecting our waters is vital to our economy, as well as the environment.”