Operators of three commercial trawl vessels who fished within closed waters in the Aleutian Islands in February have pled guilty to charges, Alaska State Troopers reported on Sept. 3.
Daniel Skauge, Oregon, operator of the Katie Ann; David Willmore of Washington, operator of the Muir Milach; and Michael Murdock, also of Washington, operator of the Aleutian Challenger, pled guilty during a hearing conducted by Assistant Attorney General Arne Soldwedel with the Office of Special Prosecutions.
Skauge pled guilty to three counts of commercial fishing in closed waters, was fined $6,000 and forfeited 6,989 pounds of Pacific cod. Murdock pled guilty to one count of commercial fishing in closed waters, was fined $3,000 and forfeited 138,766.61 pounds of Pacific cod. Willmore pled guilty to one count of commercial fishing in closed waters, was fined $3,000 and forfeited 248,035.37 pounds of Pacific cod.
State troopers said the total forfeiture to the state was 393,801.37 pounds of Pacific cod, representing an approximate value of $106,326.37.
The case was first reported to Alaska Wildlife Troopers at Dutch Harbor on Feb. 24, and referred to the wildlife investigation unit in Anchorage.
Investigation revealed that the three vessels made multiple tows with their trawls through state waters in violation of state harvest regulations, troopers said.
A non-pelagic trawl used to harvest Pacific cod during the state waters “A” season may not be more than 60 feet in overall length.
The Katie Ann, at 296 feet, the Muir Milach, at 100 feet, and the Aleutian Challenger, at 88 feet, all exceeded that limit.