Federal authorities say a Juneau restaurant bought subsistence-caught halibut to serve up for their clientele.
Owners of the Zen Restaurant and Jaded Bar will pay an $18,000 dollar penalty as part of a settlement agreement signed on February 23rd. Federal investigators say Zen’s owners purchased subsistence halibut on two occasions during an undercover investigation in February and March of 2010. Search warrants were then served on the restaurant and the owners’ residences.
Zen features Asian fusion cuisine and is located in the Goldbelt Hotel. A phone answerer at Zen on Monday said owners Cai and Yao Hu were not in the restaurant. They do not have a listed home number.
The maximum penalty under the Northern Pacific Halibut Act could’ve been $200,000 for each violation. That’s the federal law that prohibits the sale, trade, or barter of subsistence halibut.
Federal authorities did not specify whether the subsistence fisherman who caught the halibut was charged for a violation or cooperated in the investigation.
This isn’t the first time that a Juneau restaurant operator has been caught serving up subsistence-caught halibut. Federal agents swooped into Doc Water’s Pub at Merchant’s Wharf four years ago. Both the restaurant owner Jason Maroney and the subsistence fisherman David Skrzynski were eventually convicted of violating the Lacey Act. That’s the federal law prohibiting sale or purchase of fish or wildlife that’s been acquired in violation of another state or federal law. Skrzynski was a commercial salmon fisherman and holder of a Subsistence Halibut Registration Certificate, or SHARC card, but he did not have a valid commercial entry permit for halibut.