$4.3 million April 1997 for over 300 violations
3.4 million March 2005
$240,000 June 2004
$280,000 April 2006
$750,000 August 2006 over 230 pounds of prohibited shark species
Fines are getting lighter and convictions lagging.
Though, for sure, this is not a comprehensive list of fines it definitely shows a pattern of light enforcement. The fines are way to light. A fine in 1997 of 4.3 million (that was a pretty serious fine) compared to a fine of just 750,000 in 2006. The 2006 incident had a fish dealer saying that he didn't know that certain shark fins were prohibited. BS. $750,000 is a joke and Agger treated it as such. They should have yanked his license for good. WEAK ENFORCEMENT!
The problem does exist. The real problem is enforcement. A big fine to one fish processing company or fisherman every 2 or three years is "token" effort at best. They really need to address enforcement.
Do a sweep, and nail a majority of the players (recreational and commercial) that participate in poaching and facilitating poaching. Advertise the convictions to the public to show that enforcement is being stepped up and the consequences are real. The fines will finance the resources for big investigations easily.
Convictions of Offenders should include permanent loss of license (fishing or selling), forfeiture of ALL equipment used to catch or sell fish including boats, transporting vehicles, storage devices (refrigerators) etc. Another fund raising opportunity for enforcement would be the sale of the equipment.
What a sad state of affairs.
If they did that for recreational fishermen you would hear a hue and a cry that would truly be remarkable. Can you imagine the headlines when a 50 foot viking gets confiscated for having a 18 inch fluke on board? How about the NY times reaction when the guys fishing off the docks in Brooklyn start having their cars confiscated?
How's this for a novel idea, make the crimes commensurate with the offense and the amount of profit one realizes from the offense. The got got fined for the sharks probably had one fish on board, is that worth $650,000?