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A Klawock Sport Charter Captain forfeited his vessel and trailer to the state after repeated violations spanning the last three years during sentencing in the Prince of Wales court on Monday.
75-year-old Stuart Merchant pleaded guilty to four wildlife crimes in court after a three day investigation that charged him with Unsworn Falsification and violating halibut limits in June.
According to the state, Merchant, the owner/operator of Forget Me Knot Charters, has a recent history of violations in connection with the sport halibut fisheries. In 2015, Merchant was convicted of Failure to Report for at least the second time, and catch over the limit. He had his fishing/guiding privileges revoked for the month of August 2016.
Despite having his fishing and guiding revoked in August 2016, “Wildlife Troopers observed and documented him actively fishing with non-resident friends,” troopers reported.As a result, Merchant violated his probation, and had additional fines leveled at him. His fishing and guiding privileges for August 2017 were also revoked.
Merchant’s most recent conviction resulted in a $13,000 fine with $8,000 suspended. Because of the Probation Violation in the 2015 case, Merchant was fined an additional $2,000. Although Merchant was sentenced to 30 days in jail, that jail time was suspended. But, Merchant’s fishing/guiding privileges were suspended for 22 months.
In a rarely used stipulation, Merchant may not enter a boat in Alaskan waters for a period of one year. Merchant’s 26-foot guide boat and trailer was also seized and forfeited to the state.