Last week brought news of some big enforcement actions against American Seafoods, the top operator of pollock factory trawlers in the Bering Sea.
The company is facing more than $2.7 million in fines for allegedly shorting catch weights, or "essentially stealing fish," in the words of federal authorities.
New cases have been brought involving two of the company's boats, the Ocean Rover and the Northern Eagle. A third case involving the trawler American Dynasty has been pending since early 2012.
Now, just because American Seafoods has been accused doesn't mean it has to simply roll over and pay the weighty fines.
It can try to negotiate them down.
Apparently that's the tack the company is taking.
A NOAA spokeswoman tells Deckboss the matter is now before an administrative law judge.
A hearing was scheduled for March 26 in the American Dynasty case, but the judge vacated the hearing date.
The proceeding was put off "at the request of both parties to give them an opportunity to discuss the potential for a global settlement of all three cases," the spokeswoman said via email.
The judge has ordered NOAA to file periodic status reports, and the parties are trying to reach a settlement by the end of June, the email said.
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