Virginia fisherman sentenced for illegally harvesting $37K worth of striped bass

NORFOLK, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia fisherman has been sentenced for illegally harvesting striped bass over the course of several years.

52-year-old commercial fisherman Keith J. Martin was sentenced to four months in prison on October 26. He was required to begin his sentence by noon December 12. It was recommended by the court to the Bureau of Prisons that Martin be incarcerated in a medical facility.

Upon his release, Martin was sentenced to three years of supervised release. On the condition of and for the duration of his supervised release, Martin will be prohibited from participating in any form of commercial fishing unless approved by the U.S. Probation Office and will be required to participate in an approved mental health treatment program.

In June, Martin pleaded guilty to violating Virginia state law and the Lacey Act by fishing striped bass above his quota, failing to report the amount and completing at least one sale of striped bass with a commercial purchaser without using a certified scale.

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While Martin was licensed in Virginia to harvest striped bass, the Department of Justice said he illegally harvested and sold at least 12,600 pounds of striped bass between 2018 to 2020, which was valued at almost $37,000.

According to investigators, Martin sold over 6,000 pounds of striped bass to a Maryland seafood company in 2018 and more than 4,300 pounds in 2019. This goes above his legal quota of about 4,000 pounds of striped bass that he is allowed to fish and sell during those years.

The selling and transport of the overfished bass violated the Lacey Act — an act that combats the trafficking of illegally taken wildlife, fish and plants.

Martin was also required to pay a special assessment of $100 as a part of his October sentencing.

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