View Full Version : Illegal bass sold out of RI. and MASS.....

09-23-2003, 12:01 PM
Three companies were caught selling bass illegally - this is what commercial fishing for bass promotes. Greed and abuse of a resource. It needs to be done away with...

01:00 AM EDT on Sunday, September 21, 2003

Journal Staff Writer

The unusual apology, part of a criminal plea agreement between three local commercial fishing companies and the federal government, ran yesterday in the Sports section of The Providence Journal.

Under the heading, "We Apologize," Tallman & Mack Inc. and Point Trap Inc., both out of Little Compton, and Lotzzo's Inc., of Swansea, Mass., admitted in a paid advertisement that they illegally trafficked and falsely labeled striped bass. The companies paid for the ad.

"Fish stocks are a threatened resource which must be carefully monitored and regulated if the fishing industry is to survive. Violation of rules and regulations designed to ensure accurate catch assessments undermines the reasoned management of the resource and cannot be tolerated," the ad said.

"The companies understand this, and they urge the industry in general to work within the requirements of the law to ensure sustainable fisheries in the years to come."

The three companies pled guilty in U.S. District Court Friday to a federal criminal information charging them with a single count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, according to the U.S. Attorney's office of Rhode Island.

The Lacey Act criminalizes interstate and foreign transport of fish taken and sold in violation of state law.

As part of their sentencing, the companies relinquished all money received for the illegal fish by donating $56,907 to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fish and wildlife conservation. The companies have also agreed to pay a $75,000 fine.

And, in advertisements they have paid for in The Journal and in the October issue of Commercial Fisheries News, they acknowledge that they illegally sold more than 30,000 pounds of striped bass that were either falsely labeled, or improperly tagged and not reported.

Tallman & Mack and Point Trap, both trap-net fishing companies, and Lotzzo's, a fish dealer, admitted selling and transporting tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass, also known as rockfish, without properly tagging each fish with a Rhode Island tag, in compliance with state laws.

The companies also admitted providing false invoices for much of the fish, and falsely reporting or failing to report the fish landings, as required by Rhode Island and federal laws.

The retail value of the sales was about $120,000. The defendants sold the illegal fish to companies in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Canada and elsewhere.

Special agents from the National Marine Fisheries Service conducted the probe, with assistance from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The case was prosecuted by the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney's office, and the Wildlife and Marine Resources Section of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.