A large seafood processor that operates in the Bering Sea has been charged with recording inaccurate weights for Pollock.
The American Seafood's Company operates 6 catcher processors in the North Pacific. Last week the company was charged by NOAA's Office of General Council with tampering with equipment used for weighing Pollock on the catcher-processors Ocean Rover and Northern Eagle. Specifically, NOAA alleges that the American Seafood's Company and the operators of the 2 catcher-processors adjusted their flow scales to record lower weights, which were then logged. NOAA claims that the scale adjustment allowed the vessels to exceed their quota.
NOAA has proposed a penalty of $848-thousand dollars for the violations that allegedly occurred on the "Ocean Rover" with a proposed penalty of $1.3-million dollars for the alleged violation on the "Northern Eagle. The proposed penalty's come in the form of a "Notice of Violation and Assessment" or "NOVA". It allows the respondents 30-days to respond by paying the penalty, seeking to have the assessment modified, or request a hearing before an administrative law judge to deny or contest the charges.
The latest "NOVA's" come on the heels of a "NOVA" issued in January of last year for similar violations alleged to have occurred on another catcher-processor named the "American Dynasty". That vessel is also owned by the "American Seafood's Company". The case has not yet been settled. NOAA was seeking a fine of over $543-thousand dollars.
An American Seafood's Company spokesperson confirmed that the company is reviewing the new "NOVA's" and will respond once the review is complete. The issue of flow scales will be taken up during next month "North Pacific Fishery Management Council" meeting in the form of a discussion paper.