U.S. Fishing Vessel Operator Fined $1.6 Million Related to Oily Waste Dumping

Monday October 31, 2016

The U.S. Department of Justice says an U.S.-based tuna fishing company, Pacific Breeze Fisheries LLC (Pacific Breeze Fisheries), has been convicted and sentenced to a $1.6 million fine for discharging oily waste into the South Pacific waters off American Samoa and for maintaining false records, in relation to the vessel Pacific Breeze.

Pacific Breeze Fisheries admitted that its engineers, on at least two occasions in 2014 and 2015, failed to document illegal dumping of oily bilge water into the waters off American Samoa.

The company is also noted to have admitted that, between October 2013 and July 2015, senior engineers regularly failed to accurately record the transfer and disposal of oil waste in the vessel's Oil Record Book.

In addition to the $1.6 million fine, the company has also been ordered to pay a community service payment of $400,000 for use by the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

Further, while Pacific Breeze Fisheries does not currently manage any active fishing vessels, the company is said to have agreed to implement an "extensive" environmental compliance plan should it resume operations.

Former Chief Engineer of the Pacific Breeze, Jeon Seon Han, on October 25, is said to have pleaded guilty in the District of Hawaii to obstructing the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) inspection of the vessel in 2015, admitting to have lied to USCG inspectors about the disposal of sludge and to ordering the disassembly of an illegal discharge system prior to inspection. 

Han is scheduled to be sentenced in February 2017.