US-based tuna fishing company Pacific Breeze Fisheries LLC has been convicted and sentenced for discharging oil into the South Pacific and for maintaining false records, the US Coast Guard reported.
Pacific Breeze Fisheries LLC, which owned the fishing vessel F/V Pacific Breeze responsible for pollution, is obliged to pay a USD 1.6 million fine, in addition to a community service payment of USD 400,000 for use in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.
Although it does not currently manage any active fishing vessels, the company also agreed to implement an environmental compliance plan in the event it resumes operations, according to the USCG.
Pacific Breeze Fisheries admitted that its engineers failed to document the illegal dumping of oily bilge water into the waters off American Samoa without the use of required pollution prevention equipment. These discharges occurred on at least two occasions, in 2014 and 2015, before the vessel brought fish to a cannery in the port of Pago Pago, American Samoa.
The company further admitted that between October 2013 and July 2015, senior engineers regularly failed to accurately record the transfer and disposal of oil waste in the vessel’s Oil Record Book.
The USCG said it uses such records to determine whether vessels are illegally dumping oil at sea. As a result, tons of oil sludge, waste oil and oily bilge water that were produced by the vessel remain unaccounted for.