Gretna, La — The Office of the General Counsel Enforcement Section within the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a civil monetary penalty in the amount of $62,500 to a Gretna fishing boat captain on May 14.
The civil monetary penalty stems from a joint investigation between the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and NOAA that resulted in Nam Nguyen, 52, captain of The Blue Fin, receiving citations for allegedly violating highly migratory species (HMS) regulations.
Nguyen and The Blue Fin were jointly charged to pay the $62,500 penalty for using pelagic longline gear for Atlantic HMS in federal waters with live bait and for possessing “J” hooks while possessing an HMS permit.
Agents received a complaint from NOAA Fisheries that the USCG discovered The Blue Fin fishing in federal waters with live bait while also using pelagic longline gear on March 18. LDWF agents boarded the vessel when it returned to Dulac on March 19 and found J-hooks, pelagic longline gear and three places to hold live bait.
It is illegal to fish for HMS in the Gulf of Mexico with live bait and J-hooks when using pelagic longline gear. Circle hooks and either artificial lures or dead bait can be used with a highly migratory species permit when using pelagic longline gear.
Agents seized 2,861 pounds of yellowfin tuna and a total of 623 pounds of swordfish, wahoo and escolar, pelagic longline gear and two buoys.