National Marine Fisheries Service
9721 Executive Center Drive, North, St. Petersburg, FL 33702
CONTACT: Chris Smith, Public Affairs Officer FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(727) 570-5301, Pager 888-955-4854 September 20, 1999
Cynthia Fenyk, NOAA General Counsel SERO 99-053
Two Pensacola, Fla. corporations collectively charged with over one hundred counts of federal fisheries violations have agreed to pay
$800,000 in penalties, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announced today.
"The serious violations committed by these two corporations, particularly the falsified records, undermine the very integrity of
NOAA's management regime and will not be tolerated," said Bill Hogarth, southeast regional administrator of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, the agency that manages marine resources in federal waters.
"Falsifying records of red snapper landings hurts honest fishermen and subverts our efforts to rebuild this prized species," said NOAA Enforcement Attorney Cynthia S. Fenyk, who prosecuted the case. "The $800,000 in fines demonstrate our commitment to protecting these
resources from those who would abuse them."
A. C. Williams, Jr., A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc., and A. C. Williams Corporation, Inc., admitted to multiple violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Lacey Act, and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act and agreed to the $800,000 settlement. A. C. Williams, Jr. and A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc., the seafood dealer, admitted to:
• purchasing approximately 35,000 pounds of red snapper during the commercial closure;
• falsifying records to conceal the identity of the fish;
• shipping the falsely labeled fish in interstate commerce to Blue Ribbon Seafood at New York City's Fulton Fish Market;
•purchasing red snapper in excess of a vessel's trip limit during the open commercial season;
• and engaging in activities requiring federal reef fish and tunas permits without such permits.
A. C. Williams, Jr. and A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc. engaged in 576 closed season purchases from twenty-five boats after 375 vessel trips in 1996 and 1997.
A. C. Williams Corporation, Inc., owner of five of the supplying vessels, admitted to:
• selling approximately 9,000 pounds of red snapper during the commercial closure;
• falsifying logbooks to conceal the identity of the fish and/or failing to submit logbooks when reef fish were landed;
• and selling approximately 475 pounds of red snapper in excess of vessel trip limits during the open commercial season.
Vessels owned by A. C. Williams Corporation, Inc. engaged in 155 commercial closure sales of red snapper after 102 vessel trips in 1996
"I'm particularly pleased with the work of NOAA Special Agent Allan Coker, who followed informant leads and obtained the administrative
search warrant that yielded the evidence supporting the charges, " said Special Agent-in-Charge of NOAA's Southeast Enforcement Division Eugene F. Proulx. "In addition, Officers of the Pensacola office of the newly formed Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's
Marine Enforcement Bureau, formerly the Florida Marine Patrol, provided invaluable assistance in this inter-agency effort to protect
our severely overfished red snapper fishery."
A. C. Williams, Jr., A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc., and A. C. Williams Corporation, Inc. agreed to collectively pay the penalty by December 31, 1999, and A. C. Williams, Jr. agreed to refrain from dealing in federally regulated species of fish in any capacity and at any location for a period of three months. A. C. Williams Seafood Company, Inc. also forfeited $3,694.75 from the seizure of assorted reef fish purchased without a federal dealer's permit.