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NOAAâ€™s Office of Law Enforcement announced yesterday that the owners of the Zen Restaurant in Juneau, Alaska, will pay a civil penalty of $18,000 over the next 12 months for illegally purchasing subsistence-harvested Pacific halibut in 2010, according to a settlement agreement signed on February 23.
In the settlement agreement, Yang Sing LLC, doing business as the Zen Restaurant and Jaded Bar, Cai W. Hu and Yai W. Hu, admitted that they purchased Pacific halibut that had been harvested under a subsistence fishing permit on two occasions in February and March 2010. The fish were purchased at least in part to be served to restaurant patrons.
The Northern Pacific Halibut Act, which governs the commercial, sport, charter, and subsistence halibut fisheries in the U.S., prohibits the sale, offer for sale, trade or barter of subsistence-harvested halibut.
Following the purchase, which was part of an undercover investigation by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement’s Alaska Division, administrative search warrants were executed on the Hu residence and the Zen Restaurant, where agents seized the halibut.
“The subsistence halibut fishery is critically important to the traditions and survival of rural Alaskan coastal communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sherrie Tinsley Myers of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement Alaska Division. “The federal laws that govern all halibut fisheries were specifically crafted to ensure that the subsistence halibut fishery does not compete or interfere with the commercial halibut fishery. It is precisely this principle that was violated in this case.”
The violations were reported to and investigated by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement’s Alaska Division and prosecuted by NOAA’s Office of General Counsel’s Enforcement Section. The maximum civil penalty under theNorthern Pacific Halibut Act is $200,000 for each violation.
The mission of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations enacted to conserve and protect our nation’s marine resources. To report a suspected violation, contact Enforcement’s national hotline at 1-800-853-1964.