The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of General Counsel
has settled a multiple-violation shark case with the owner of Brooklyn-based Agger Fish Corporation. The fish dealer admitted to purchasing shark meat and fins without a federal permit, failing to report the vast majority of those purchases to federal authorities, and possessing fins from seven shark species that are prohibited from harvest under federal law, including basking and white sharks. he settlement agreement requires Agger Fish to pay a civil penalty
of $750,000 and forfeit nearly 1,000 lbs. of dried shark fins, including more than 230 lbs. from prohibited species worth approximately $80,000. An additional $250,000 penalty was suspended.
Agents discovered the violations in 2003 during a joint investigation
by NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Police. After searching the company’s Brooklyn facility, agents discovered that Agger Fish had purchased approximately 300,000 lbs. of federally regulated shark meat and fins over a two-and-a-half year period without the required federal shark dealer permit. The United States has managed domestic Atlantic shark fisheries since 1993. However, populations of many species have continued to decline over the past decade despite a highly regulated U.S. fishery. Domestic shark fisheries are subject to a commercial limited entry program, low annual quotas, a prohibition on landing 19 of the most depleted species, recreational catch limits and a prohibition on shark finning – the practice of cutting the fins off the shark and disposing of the carcass. In 2004, the U.S. successfully negotiated a binding agreement among 63 Atlantic fishing nations to ban shark finning in broader efforts to manage sharks. Domestic requirements for dealer permits and reporting help bolster important scientific information used to determine shark abundance.