The Coast Guard has filed a civil penalty against the operator of an illegal fishing charter, after the man’s boat and fishing gear were seized following a sting operation last summer.
The Coast Guard filed the penalty against the man for operating a recreational vessel for commercial purposes without proper credentials from the state or Coast Guard. If found guilty, he faces up to $27,500 in fines.
Coast Guard Sector Columbia River’s Marine Safety Unit, located in Portland, took action after learning about an illegal charter operation from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
WDFW undercover officers responded to an ad for $50 salmon fishing trips aboard the 32-foot boat Sherry Ann out of Chinook, Wash., last August. The vessel’s owner/operator accepted payment from the officers for a day of fishing.
He was subsequently arrested by WDFW officers and charged for operating without a WDFW-issued commercial charter license and his vessel and fishing gear were seized for state forfeiture proceedings. Under state law, chartering without a license is a gross misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The Coast Guard initially issued a notice of violation to the owner/operator for operating an uninspected passenger vessel without a Coast Guard issued master’s license.
“Many state and federal regulations associated with vessel operators taking passengers for hire are intended to protect the public’s safety,” WDFW Deputy Chief Mike Cenci said. “We take this collaborative agency role very seriously.”
“Legal charter operators and their vessels receive more scrutiny and oversight than everyday recreational fishermen,” said Chief Warrant Officer Howard McCarthy, investigating officer for Coast Guard MSU.
“Charter operators require additional inspections and licenses. Illegal operators not only pose a safety hazard to those aboard their vessels and the vessels around them, they cheat the system and the legal charter businesses with whom they compete.”