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Allegedly harvested, sold striped bass illegally

By KATIE FITZPATRICK

Staff writer

A Stoney’s Kingfishers Charters fishing boat captain was one of five people indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for allegedly illegally harvesting and selling striped bass.

David Dwayne Scott of Lusby, a captain of Stoney’s Kingfisher, a charter boat owned by Stoney’s in Solomons, was charged with trafficking in illegally harvested striped bass and destruction of evidence for actions taken during a striped bass charter fishing trip in 2009, according to a Nov. 8 U.S. Department of Justice press release. He also faces charges of making false statements to law enforcement officers and destroying property to prevent its seizure by law enforcement.

“I haven’t been found guilty of any charges,” Scott said Tuesday afternoon.

Stoney’s owner Jeannie Stone said during a phone interview Tuesday the charter boat, Stoney’s Kingfisher, is owned by the restaurant but is used for “personal pleasures” and to “take charters out if need be.” She said Scott is an independent contractor that has used the boat for the last three years. She said Scott is currently still working as an independent contractor.

Scott, according to the indictment, sold charter fishing trips through Stoney’s Kingfishers Charters, headquartered in Solomons Island, with the intent to harvest striped bass, and marketed those trips out of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

On Feb. 7, 2009, Scott allegedly engaged in conduct that involved the sale of striped bass fished for and harvested in the Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ, with a market value in excess of $350, and transported the fish knowing they were taken and sold in violation of the law, the indictment alleges. That same day, before a search and seizure of property by Virginia Marine Police, Scott allegedly tried to destroy, damage, waste, dispose of and transfer striped bass to prevent the police from taking the fish.

Stone said when Scott returned to the dock that day, “he had no fish with him” on the boat. Stone said she was not on the boat that day and is “not responsible for what [Scott] does.”

“He has nothing to do with the restaurant or Stoney’s Seafood houses,” Stone said. “We don’t use fish from the charter boat. We buy all our fish from wholesale and we’ve broken no laws.”

In 1984, Congress passed the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act, which states, “Atlantic striped bass are of historic commercial and recreational importance and economic benefit to Atlantic coastal States and to the Nation,” and that it “is in the national interest to implement effective procedures and measures to provide for effective inter-jurisdictional conservation and management of this species,” according to the press release.

Since 1990, the Secretary of Commerce has imposed a moratorium on fishing for striped bass within the EEZ, the zone where the U.S. and other coastal nations have jurisdiction over economic and resource management, the press release states. The moratorium makes it illegal to fish for or harvest striped bass in the EEZ and also makes it illegal to keep any striped bass that were taken in or from the EEZ.

The Lacey Act, according to the press release, makes it illegal for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase any fish and wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of the nation, or to attempt to do so. It is a felony if someone knowingly engaged in conduct involving the sale of, offer to sell or intent to sell fish with a market value in excess of $350, knowing that the fish were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of, or in a manner unlawful under, a law or regulation of the nation, the press release states. Under the Lacey Act, it is a “sale” of fish or wildlife for any person, for money or other consideration, to offer or provide guiding, outfitting or other services.

The other four charter fishing boat captains face charges that they sold charter fishing trips and harvested striped bass from the EEZ.

Jeffrey Adams of Hudgins, Va., captain of the F/V Providence II, and his corporation Adams Fishing Adventures, headquartered in Hallieford, Va., were charged with conspiracy, trafficking in illegally harvested striped bass in violation of the Lacey Act and making false statements to law enforcement officers between March 4, 2009, and Feb. 9, 2011.

Raymond Carroll Webb of White Stone, Va., captain of the F/V Spider Webb, and his corporation Peake Enterprises, Ltd., headquartered in White Stone, Va., were charged with trafficking in illegally harvested striped bass and destruction of evidence for actions taken during a striped bass charter fishing trip Feb. 12, 2011.

Nolan L. Agner of Danville, Va., captain of the Flat Line, and his corporation Agner Inc., headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va., were charged with trafficking in illegally harvested striped bass for actions taken during a striped bass charter fishing trip on Jan. 16, 2011.

William W. “Duby” Lowery of Tappahannock, Va., and captain of the Anna Lynn, was charged with trafficking in illegally harvested striped bass and destruction of evidence for actions taken during a striped bass charter fishing trip Jan. 15, 2010.

If convicted, all five individual defendants face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count, as well as forfeiture of the fishing vessels used during the commission of the crimes, the press release states. If convicted, the three corporate defendants face a maximum penalty of a $500,000 fine per count, as well as forfeiture of the fishing vessels used during the commission of the crimes.

The case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fisheries, Office for Law Enforcement and the Virginia Marine Police with assistance from the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau, Norfolk Office. The case is being prosecuted by Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

kfitzpatrick@somdnews.com