- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A former Stoney’s Kingfishers Charters fishing boat captain was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for allegedly illegally harvesting and selling striped bass, in violation of the Lacey Act.
David Dwayne Scott, 41, of Lusby, a captain of Stoney’s Kingfisher, a charter boat owned by Stoney’s in Solomons, was originally indicted 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 faced charges of making false statements to law enforcement officers and destroying property to prevent its seizure by law enforcement.
Scott was sentenced Thursday to three years of probation, fined $5,600 payable to the Lacey Act Reward Account and ordered to pay $1,900 in restitution to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia press release.
A condition of his probation, the press release states, is that he cannot engage in either charter or commercial fishing industry anywhere in the world, including captaining or mating on a vessel or performing services in support of a charter or commercial fisherman.
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.
In original reports, Stoney’s owner Jeannie Stone said 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 in original reports that Scott was an independent contractor who had used the boat for three years.
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 alleged. 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.
In a statement of facts filed with Scott’s plea agreement, Scott admitted to taking a charter fishing trip into the EEZ to fish for striped bass on Feb. 7, 2009, and, when approached by law enforcement, dumped 19 striped bass overboard in an attempt to avoid detection by police, the press release states.
The Lacey Act, according to the press release, makes it unlawful for any person to transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of the U.S.
Since 1990, federal law has made it unlawful to fish, catch or possess striped bass in the EEZ, the press release states. The laws were passed in response to a decline in the striped bass populations in the late 1970s, and are designed to protect and preserve striped bass for future generations.
The cases were investigated by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and the Virginia Marine Police with assistance from the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau, Norfolk Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and trial attorney James B. Nelson of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States, the press release states.