Seacoast fishermen charged for 2.6 million pounds of unreported Atlantic herring sales

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Two Seacoast fishermen are among a group of five who have been named in a 35-count indictment for allegedly selling over 2.6 million pounds of unreported Atlantic herring over a three-year period.

Glenn Robbins, 75, of Eliot, Maine and Ethan Chase, 44, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire were named in a group of six defendants, which includes the corporation Western Sea, Inc., in an indictment returned Friday, according to U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine.

The indictment alleges that between June 2016 and September 2019, the owner, captains and crew aboard the F/V Western Sea ship sold millions of pounds of Atlantic herring without reporting it to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Crew members were allegedly paid directly by fish dealers and lobster vessel operators for the herring.

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“NOAA relies upon accurate reports to set policies designed to ensure a sustainable fishery,” McElwee’s announcement reads.

'Unscrupulous and unlawful fishing'

The five fishermen, who also allegedly falsified fishing records, are charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, and obstruction of justice.

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“The type of unscrupulous and unlawful fishing alleged in the Indictment returned by the grand jury directly affects the economic benefit of law-abiding fishermen and fishing communities,” said NOAA Office of Law Enforcement director James Landon, whose agency investigated the case.

The other three defendants cited are Maine residents Neil Herrick, 46, of Rockland, Andrew Banow, 35, of Rockport and Jason Parent, 49, of Owls Head.

McElwee’s announcement did not share if any of the defendants owns the corporation cited in the indictment.

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“We will continue to help bring to justice those who are proven to have violated U.S. fishing laws and regulations, to help ensure the sustainability of our living marine resources while also maximizing economic benefit,” Landon said.

The District of Maine said attorney Edward MacColl of Portland-based Thompson, MacColl & Bass represents Robbins and Chase. MacColl did not immediately return request for comment.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Seacoast fishermen charged for unreported Atlantic herring sales

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