Kodiak fisherman will plead guilty to federal charges of falsifying records

Must make a public service announcement in National Fisherman Magazine as part of plea
 Kodiak in winter (Photo from Department of Commerce)
Kodiak in winter (Photo from Department of Commerce) (KTUU)
Published: Aug. 22, 2020 at 5:36 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The U.S. Attorney’s Office released a statement on Friday that said, 46-year-old James Aaron Stevens of Kodiak will plead guilty to one count of false labeling, a Lacey Act violation, for knowingly submitting false records. The document goes on to say Stevens falsely reported individual fishing quota (IFQ) halibut and IFA sablefish between 2014 and 2017.

Stevens is the owner and operator of F/V Alaskan Star and F/V Southern Seas out of Kodiak. The U.S. Attorneys office goes on to say Stevens specifically knowingly falsified International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) logbooks, Daily Fishing Logbooks, Alaska Department of Fish and Game fish tickets, and landing reports to show that fishing gear had been deployed in areas where the vessel did not fish. Stevens also did not include areas where the fish were actually harvested. During their investigation officials discovered that Stevens kept the accurate fishing information in a separate personal logbook.

Officials say over the course of 26 fishing trips, Stevens smudged records related to around 903,208 pounds of falsely reported halibut and sablefish, with a $4,522,210 approximate dock value and a market value of $13,566,630.

According to the release Stevens has agreed to pay a large fine before sentencing in addition to time in prison, vessel monitoring as part of his conditions of supervised release, and to “make a public service announcement acknowledging his wrongdoing, to be submitting to the National Fisherman Magazine as part of the plea.”

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case.

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