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Owners of Seized Togiak Bay Fishing Vessels Fined Nearly $90K

By Chris Klint, Senior Digital Producer, cklint@ktuu.com
Published On: Jul 25 2014 01:00:41 PM AKDT
Owners of Seized Togiak Bay Fishing Vessels Fined Nearly $90K

Courtesy AWT

Alaska Wildlife Troopers used several craft, including the patrol vessel Kvichak, to board fishing vessels in Togiak Bay earlier this month. Six seized vessels' owners have been fined a total of $87,000 to recover them; all six received probation terms after pleading guilty to misdemeanor fishing offenses, with a total of almost 35,000 pounds of fish seized and forfeited.

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The owners of six fishing vessels seized in Togiak Bay for illegal salmon fishing this month have been fined a total of almost $90,000, with Alaska Wildlife Troopers seizing nearly 35,000 pounds of fish.

On Wednesday, troopers said they made the seizures earlier this month, in response to tips that the vessels had been fishing outside legal boundaries of the Togiak Bay commercial salmon fishing district.

According to Dillingham District Court documents, the Togiak men who own the seized vessels all entered guilty pleas to misdemeanor fishing charges. They include Rodney Gosuk of the 5 G’s, 39; Anthony Poulsen of the Skammin, 46; Alvaro Sutton of the Kalena Annielyse, 35; Kevin Harless of the Good Deal, 52; William Byayuk of the Inuli, 22; and Leroy Fox of the Hammer Time, 54.

Fish seizures ranged from 3,736 pounds aboard the Inuli to 10,193 pounds aboard the Hammer Time. Each of the owners was fined $15,000, with $3,000 of Sutton’s fine suspended. All six received jail sentences ranging from 30 to 365 days, with almost all of the time suspended; only Gosuk and Poulsen will spend time behind bars, with each ordered to serve five days.

AST spokesperson Megan Peters says that while the seized vessels may be returned to their owners, the proceeds of their catch have already been forfeited.

“When they pay their fine, they get their boat back,” Peters said. “The fish are dead, so they’re still processed; the funds from the fish are turned over to the state.”

All of the vessels’ owners will spend three years of probation, with Gosuk and Poulsen receiving five-year probation terms.

Court records list misdemeanor cases against three other people charged during the seizures, including Skammin permit holder Norma Ayojiak, Skammin crewman Michael Poulsen and Hammer Time permit holder Will Fox, as still open.