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2718 Views 22 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Bob ECT
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued Notices of Violation and Assessment (NOVAs) to Charles F. Burke Jr., owner of the seafood dealership Capt?n Charlie?s Clams and the fishing vessels Irene B. III, Capt. Charlie, and Two Brothers, assessing civil penalties totaling $935,000.

NOAA Fisheries Service Office for Law Enforcement (OLE) and New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW) recently concluded a six-month investigation into the illegal fishing practices of Charles F. Burke Jr. The investigation revealed numerous violations including: exceeding Atlantic Sea Scallops general category landing limits and submitting false reports on multiple fishing trip reports, filing false dealer reports, failure of the dealer to provide required records, receiving illegally retained scallops by the dealer, making false oral statements, and interfering with a Federal investigation.

Total penalties incurred from the numerous violations are as follow:

Entire Article:
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Is that a Cape May scallop boat, sounds familar? Maybe one of our guys Bluefin contacts? Anyway, kudos to NOAA and NJDFW for nabbing the no gooders!
Good, another scumbag coomercial fisherman out of business. HOPEFULLY THEY'LL ALL BE GONE SOON!!!
You are to stupid to realize that without comm. fisherman wew would have no seafood!!No seafood would mean no seafood restraunts etc....
I think he has an idea what he's talking about.

Are you defending guys who break the rules screwing over the honest ones who follow them?

Also, almost 80% of seafood sold in the US does not come from our waters.
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Why would we need seafood retaurants? We catch our own seafood, just enough to feed our family.
12,383 Miles of Coast line to feed the entire Continental United States. Hawaii and Alaska do not count there fishing is too good
A majority of that 12,383 miles of coastline is not commercially productive. Leaving inshore productive zones as food sources for an entire country (we happen to be there). Imagine if American Culture revolved around fish in our diet, as the Japanese Culture does ?
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I knew I could get someone to bite!!!When are you guys gonna start posting the recreational anglers that get fined.I know,I know there are no recreational anglers that break the law, its just the commercial guys doing it!AAHH, its only one striper, whos gonna know!
Who said that was acceptable?

I would think those in the fishery would be pissed the most, could very well be taken out of your future qouta's.

[ 06-20-2005, 03:25 PM: Message edited by: Bob ECT ]
June 21, 2005

U.S. fines North Cape May scallop operation $935,000
By RICHARD DEGENER Staff Writer, (609) 463-6711, E-Mail

A Cape May County seafood dealer has been assessed almost $1 million in fines for allegedly landing too many Atlantic sea scallops and then falsifying reports to cover up the crime.

Penalties assessed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, following a joint investigation with the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife, also include the forfeiture of certain fishing rights.

NOAA spokesman Mark Oswell, calling it one of the largest fines ever in the scallop fishery, said the action is against Capt'n Charlie's Clams, a company owned and operated by Charles F. Burke Jr. of the North Cape May section of Lower Township, as well as three commercial fishing vessels he owns, the captains of the boats, and his wife, Irene Burke. The fishing operation is actually in Middle Township near Richardson Sound but Oswell said the business is run out of the Burkes' home.

"It's one of the largest cases for scallops as far as a penalty. If everyone fished as Mr. Burke did, then we would run out of scallops. This fishery is a renewable resource, but fishermen have to do their part. They have to catch within the guidelines to have the scallop fishery be sustainable," Oswell said.

Burke did not return phone calls on Monday.

Oswell said he has filed for a hearing before an administrative law judge, which is his right after the federal government issues a NOVA, or Notice of Violation and Assessment, but a hearing date has not been set.

NOAA issued multiple NOVAs to Burke. All told, they total civil penalties of $935,000. Oswell said the six-month investigation revealed numerous illegal fishing practices, including exceeding landing limits, submitting false fishing trip reports, filing false dealer reports, failing to provide required records, receiving illegally obtained scallops, making false oral statements, and interfering with a federal investigation.

One NOVA assesses a $325,000 fine against the business Capt'n Charlie's Clams and a two-year ban on dealing with any federally regulated fish species.

A second NOVA assesses a $340,000 fine against the fishing vessel Irene B. III, a scallop boat owned by Burke and his wife Irene. The NOVA also says the vessel cannot fish for federally regulated species for three years. It also bans vessel captain Richard Geronimo from ever fishing again in any federal fisheries. Oswell said Geronimo now lives in Cape May County but he has a long history of violating fishing laws in other East Coast ports "from New Bedford to North Carolina."

A third NOVA assesses a $120,000 penalty to the fishing vessel Capt. Charlie, which is owned by Burke. Under this NOVA, vessel captain Richard Morel can't land federally regulated species for eight months and the vessel can't fish for six months. Oswell said Morel is originally from Virginia but now lives in Cape May County.

A third boat owned by Burke, the fishing vessel Two Brothers, was assessed a $150,000 fine. The boat can't fish for one year and the captain, Burke's son Charles Burke III, can't fish for 300 days. Irene Burke was charged with interfering with a federal investigation.

Civil fines for violating NOAA regulations vary widely depending on the violation, and Oswell said scallop violations of this magnitude are rare. A group of fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico was fined more than $430,000 in 1999 for catching red snapper after the season ended, and the dealer who purchased the fish was fined $800,000. Two Houston fishermen were fined $439,000 in 2000 for fishing while their permits were sanctioned and falsifying landing reports.

The Burke vessels were harvesting scallops in a controversial program that allows landings of the shellfish mainly as a by-catch in other fisheries. They are allowed 400 pounds of scallop meats per day. The fishery is controversial because fishermen whose main fishery is scallops have alleged some boats are not landing them as a by-catch but are actually targeting them and then exceeding the allowed catch.

The by-catch landings, called "general category landings," at one point represented about 2 percent of the East Coast scallop catch, but some believe it has skyrocketed to as much as 20 percent. The increase comes at a time when the federal government is cutting back the days at sea by full-time scallop fishermen.

Oswell said Burke was easily exceeding the limits.

"There were multiple attempts to conceal 2,300 pounds on the dock," Oswell said.

Special Agent Michael Henry of NOAA's Fisheries Service Office for Law Enforcement said Burke falsified reports to try to cover up illegal landings. The reports are required by federal law and are needed so the fishery can be properly managed.

Dan Cohen, a Port of Cape May seafood dealer who owns scallop boats, welcomed the news.

"It's good the government is enforcing these rules. We're harvesting a limited resource, so when he's cheating he's actually taking from us," Cohen said.

The New England Fishery Management Council is in charge of managing scallops and has reported a 300 percent increase in general category landings in 2004. Full-time scallop fishermen, meanwhile, have seen their days fishing and crew sizes cut back by the government. Beginning in 1993, they were cut back to 220 days at sea with a nine-man crew and in 2005 this was reduced to 100 days at sea with a seven-man crew.

Cohen said scallop stocks are rising and this is bringing the shellfish closer to the beach and within reach of smaller boats that could go out fishing for something else but legally land 400 pounds of scallops per day. This has helped convince smaller fishing operations to target them.

"Scallopers raised hackles with the government and said this was wrong. Enforcement looked into it and found we were right," Cohen said.

The issue could result in the smaller vessels having to install VMS, or Vessel Monitoring Systems, that allow the government to know where a boat is at any time. The full-time scallopers already have them.
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Whoever said it is good another scumbag commercial fisherman is a moron because recreational fisherman relie on commercial fisherman more than people ever think about,every time you buy clams or bunker,ballyhoo ,mullet any kind of bait then you are a hipocrit they are all caught commercially whether youy realize it or not,and look at all of the people tying off to lobstewr pot buoys or asking commercial guys where the fish are or lining up at the backs of scallop boats to catch bluefin and i have seen firtsthanded the greed of some recreational guys when it comes to abusing the limit. it is the same with everything there are some good and some bad not every commercial fisherman is raping the ocean he is working harder than most to feed his family,so if you are totally against commercial fishing i suggest you never use a store bought bait a gain because more than likely you are supporting the thing you seem to be so much against
Neither are right, all of them should be held to the same standard. It is ashame to see anyone lose their method of making a living, but the day the Burke's decided it was ok for them to break the law, they also accepted the risk.
Waterman I think you need to re-read it, you missed the joke.
Not hard to catch your own bait, if you can't, there's allways lures
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Dude they all cheat the system. They are trying to make money can you blame them. The bottom line is if your gonna cheat you need to be prepared to pay if you get caught.

The real shame of the entire industry is the waste that it creates. The killed bycatch, the wasted or spoiled fish that never make it into the consumers mouths, etc. The crime is that commercial fishing is not an Efficient way to supply food to the masses. All the catch comes in over a short timeframe and there is a ton of waste resulting in lower stocks of fish.
Totally agree JC! Besides the bycatch waste, everyday i see filets of fish wasting away in the seafood case at the shoprite. How much of that do you think gets tossed!?! Multiply that waste by how many supermarkets and restaurants there are in the country that feature fresh fish and you get insurmountable waste! The fact that all the quotas for a public resource except striper are in favor of the commercial fishery is a disgrace to conservation!

[ 06-21-2005, 06:36 PM: Message edited by: CaptG ]
I must be a moron for trying to make a living from the ocean.I do agree that if you blatantly break the rules you deserve to pay.We run a scallop boat from OC md and watch other boats getting caught for different infractions.We play by the rules and we have had no trouble at all. I still would like to see some posts about recreational anglers getting caught!
Originally posted by jersey:
I must be a moron for trying to make a living from the ocean.I do agree that if you blatantly break the rules you deserve to pay.We run a scallop boat from OC md and watch other boats getting caught for different infractions.We play by the rules and we have had no trouble at all. I still would like to see some posts about recreational anglers getting caught!
The reasons I don't get caught:

1. I don't keep short fish.
2. I don't kill more than my limit.
3. I abide by the seasons set by regulations.

I hate the fact that I can only kill one BFT. It makes for an expensive day to get one fish. Will I "bend" the rules? Absolutely not.
Both Recreational and Commercial guys are guilty as sin. There is a difference though. Commercial guys are much better at catching fish than recreational fisherman.

Jersey, you must love it because there must be an easier way to make a buck.
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