Russian king crab was seized after allegations of illegal import. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Seafood processor forfeits USD 2.1 mln to govt
Thursday, April 26, 2012, 03:30 (GMT + 9)
The US Department of Justice and a seafood processor have entered into a consent judgment in a civil forfeiture action involving the seizure of 112 tonnes of Russian king crab the US Government believes were imported illegally.
The crab was sold in July 2011 for about USD 2.5 million. The US Government will forfeit and keep approximately USD 2.1 million of the proceeds and New York-based Harbor Seafood, Inc will receive USD 300,000 of the proceeds.
Further, the consent judgment will require Harbor Seafood to undertake a compliance review and offer its employees training about the laws that govern the import of seafood.
“International trade involving illegal seafood products is a widespread problem that threatens the integrity of our food supply and undermines efforts to protect valuable natural resources,” said US Attorney Jenny A Durkan. “The financial loss to the importer in this case should put all seafood importers on notice that they need to ensure that the products they import are legally harvested and imported.”
The consent judgment filed in US District Court in Seattle indicates that the crab was seized after Harbor Seafood attempted to import it through the Port of Seattle in eight shipments during December 2010 and January 2011. The government alleges that Harbor Seafood imported the crab illegally because the crab was harvested from Russian waters in violation of Russian quotas, was not marked in accordance with regulations implemented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) pursuant to the Lacey Act and lacked information required by the reporting regulations implemented by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The importation of seafood products that are harvested in violation of foreign law is illegal under the Lacey Act.
Under the settlement, Harbor Seafood does not admit wrongdoing but has agreed to undertake a compliance review and provide remedial training to its employees. The firm handles 40-50 million lb of seafood annually and is reportedly the 20th largest seafood company in the US.
“Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a global challenge, and this case is an example of international cooperation producing tangible results,” said Vicki Nomura, special agent in charge of NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement's Northwest Division. “This kind of illegal activity threatens the long-term sustainability of the Russian crab population and undermines conservation efforts.”
By Natalia Real