Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that James Aaron Stevens, 46, of Kodiak, will plead guilty to one count of false labeling, a Lacey Act violation, for knowingly submitting false records concerning the locations and regulatory areas where fish were harvested.
According to admissions made in connection with the plea, Stevens, the owner and operator of F/V Alaskan Star and F/V Southern Seas out of Kodiak, falsely reported individual fishing quota (IFQ) halibut and IFQ sablefish between 2014 and 2017. Specifically, Stevens 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 vessels did not fish, and omitted areas in which the fish were actually harvested. In addition to his falsified logbooks, the investigation further revealed that Stevens maintained the accurate fishing information in a separate, personal log.
Over the course of 26 fishing trips, Stevens falsified records related to approximately 903,208 pounds of falsely reported halibut and sablefish, with an approximate dock value of $4,522,210 and a market value of $13,566,630. Stevens sold the falsely labeled fish caught during these trips, which were, or were intended to be, transported in interstate and foreign commerce.
As part of the plea, and in addition to a term of imprisonment, Stevens agreed to pay a substantial fine before sentencing; to comply with vessel monitoring as part of his conditions of supervised release; and to make a public service announcement acknowledging his wrongdoing, to be submitted to the National Fisherman Magazine.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Alexander of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska.