Saturday, June 1, 2013

NMFS to take action to stop 'scale fraud'

The National Marine Fisheries Service is planning to tighten regulations on scales used to weigh catches aboard factory fishing vessels operating off Alaska.

NMFS says it has "investigated several cases of potential scale tampering and fraud that may have resulted in large underestimations of catch" in the Bering Sea pollock fishery.

Federal authorities have levied more than $2.7 million in fines against American Seafoods, the largest operator of factory trawlers in the pollock fishery.

At-sea scales can provide very precise and accurate estimates of catch, NMFS says, provided the scales are not monkeyed with.

It's now apparent that regulatory changes are needed to stop scale fraud, the agency says.

This briefing paper lays out the possible changes. Among them:

• Require vessels to report scale tests daily

• Expand video monitoring of the scale area

• Have an observer present whenever scales are recalibrated

• Enhance the "audit trail" on scale adjustments.


Anonymous said...

Looks good on paper but crooks always find new ways to cheat.

A 2.7 million dollar fine is nothing compared to the billions this fishery is raking in while killing off the in-river fishing of salmon in Western Alaska.

This is not just.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they put a full time bonded observer aboard? The profits and abuse of the system certainly justify it.

Anonymous said...

How about jail time for vessel skippers and any other responsible people on board. Fines are not adequate. There needs to be criminal consequences for those directly responsible for the lawbreaking, and anyone up the chain of command that has directed them to break the law.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:28 There are two full time observers on all factory trawlers fishing for pollock in the Bering Sea. Get your facts straight before blogging from your treehouse in Sitka. Maybe NMFS is to blame for their inadequate sampling methods and the fact that pollock observers rarely see the back deck of a trawler. Corruption runs all the way to the top in this fishery.

Anonymous said...

The corruption in this fishery is cheating people in America. It needs to be stopped.

Anonymous said...

2.7 million ? How about penalty that fits the crime. How about a fine equal to the dollars value of the under reported catch, far more than 2.7 million, and some real jail time the corporate chiefs that really drive the bus.

Anonymous said...

How about confiscating the stocks held by the absentee owners. If the richies suddenly couldn't afford tea-time they might suddenly care.

Anonymous said...

It won't end until the cheaters are hit where it hurts the most - profits turned over to the federal government to restore the damage done to a slopplily managed fishery because the pollock fishery is also responsible for killing off the king salmon fishery of the Western Alaska region. The CDQ program was a farce to begin with - giving away money that really isn't being given away in the first place. It just bought new partners into the game.

Anonymous said...

Maybe try actually enforcing the law, throwing people in jail who steal the fish, throw people in jail for submitting false documents to the federal government, and see if that works. Its all a crime, American Seafoods profited from it massively, and they only get a fine- thats a fraction of the fish they stole? Thats not a deterrent, its encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Yup, hefty fines and jail time will curb the crookedness right out of the most destructive fishery on earth - the Bering Sea Pollock Fishery.