Fishermen charged with overharvesting of scallops

As per the information revealed by the authorities a Maine seafood company, and four fishermen have been charged with overharvesting of Atlantic sea scallops off the coast of New Jersey. They said that the defendants took thousands of pounds of scallops above the legal limit in an area of the ocean where scallop fishing was limited, according to a federal complaint. They then falsified catch records to conceal the overharvesting, which allegedly occurred in 2007 and 2008, officials said.

The company D.C. Air & Seafood Inc., its owner Christopher Byers, 39, of Winter Harbor, Maine — and the five men were charged in the complaint filed Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark. The complaint said that the company has purchased Atlantic sea scallops harvested in the Elephant Trunk Access Area, a large fishing ground off the mid-Atlantic coast southeast of the Delaware Bay.

The area is restrict for scallop harvest no more than 400 pounds per vessel per trip during two-week periods in March 2007 and March 2008. As per authorities vessels operator took thousands of pounds over that limit to sell to D.C. Air & Seafood. Scallop fishing in The Elephant Trunk area, which was closed in 2004 to allow the scallop population to rebuild, was reopened with limits in March 2007.

NOAA seeks report after having complaint against the company and the fishermen. They had prepared false reports which would led them to face penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.