Massachusetts-based Sea Harvest Inc. has pleaded guilty to discharging oily waste into the coastal waters of the United States, resulting in a $1 million (€895,895) fine and five years' probation for the company and Fishing Vessel Enterprises, which owns the two vessels operated by Sea Harvest Inc.
The companies will be required to implement "a robust environmental compliance plan" at their own expense, which will cover 36 commercial fishing vessels they own or operate.
According to court documents, the defendants owned and operated multiple vessels engaged in commercial fishing operations out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. The fishing vessels in question had discharged oily waste on multiple occasions since 2017.
On Sept. 20, 2017, for example, the New Bedford Massachusetts Police Port Security Unit traced an oil sheen in the Acushnet River to a vessel owned and operated by the defendants. When questioned about the sheen, the vessel’s manager confirmed that he had illegally pumped oily bilge water into the Acushnet River.
On July 3, 2018, the captain of the Pacific Capes attempted to discharge water from a fish hold into New Bedford Harbor in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The captain failed to ensure that the valve alignment on the vessel’s bilge manifold was in the proper configuration.
Oil contamination was discovered up to 1,000 yards from the vessel along the beach.