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NOAA Settles Shark Case with New York Fish Dealer for $750,000; 'A Strong Message'

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NEW YORK, New York -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of General Counsel has settled a multiple-violation shark case with the owner of Brooklyn-based Agger Fish Corporation. The fish dealer admitted to purchasing shark meat and fins without a federal permit, failing to report the vast majority of those purchases to federal authorities, and possessing fins from seven shark species that are prohibited from harvest under federal law, including basking and white sharks.

The settlement agreement requires Agger Fish to pay a civil penalty of $750,000 and forfeit nearly 1,000 pounds of dried shark fins, including more than 230 pounds from prohibited species worth approximately $80,000. An additional $250,000 penalty was suspended.

"This case sends a strong message to would-be violators of fisheries laws that failure to follow those laws can be very costly," said Special Agent Andy Cohen, head of NOAA's Northeast fisheries enforcement division. "Agger Fish Company attempted to undermine federal laws that protect sharks and legitimate shark fishermen, and NOAA will continue to seek out these bad actors and bring them to justice."

Agents discovered the violations in 2003 during a joint investigation by NOAA's Office for Law Enforcement and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Police. After searching the company's Brooklyn facility, agents discovered that Agger Fish had purchased approximately 300,000 pounds of federally regulated shark meat and fins over a two-and-a-half year period without the required federal shark dealer permit.

The United States has managed domestic Atlantic shark fisheries since 1993. Populations of many species have continued to decline over the past decade, however, despite a highly regulated U.S. fishery. Domestic shark fisheries are subject to a commercial limited entry program, low annual quotas, a prohibition on landing 19 of the most depleted species, recreational catch limits and a prohibition on shark finning - the practice of cutting the fins off the shark and disposing of the carcass.

In 2004, the United States successfully negotiated a binding agreement among 63 Atlantic fishing nations to ban shark finning in broader efforts to manage sharks. Domestic requirements for dealer permits and reporting help bolster important scientific information used to determine shark abundance.

To report illegal fishing activities, contact the NOAA Fisheries Service's Enforcement Hot Line at 800-853-1964.

In 2007, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and more than 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.


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