Judge awards stiff penalties for out-of-season fishing

Two fishermen recently learned that commercial trolling out of season – even by a single day – can be expensive.

The captain and crewman of the fishing vessel Chief Joseph pleaded guilty in a Sitka courtroom on July 29 to charges of fishing during closed season and unlawful possession of fish. Judge Leonard Devaney sent the vessel owner — 49-year-old Jeffrey Angelo of Samoa, California — to jail for five days and ordered him to pay over $6,000 in fines. The crewman, Alec Hurst, received a suspended jail sentence and a $1,500 fine. Alaska Trooper Sgt. Aaron Frenzel said that cases of pre-season fishing such as this are relatively rare.

On June 30, Alaska Wildlife Troopers came upon Angelo and Hurst at anchor in Still Harbor, on the southwest corner of Baranof Island, with evidence of recent fishing on deck. According to the Troopers’ report, Angelo and Hurst knowingly fished 12 king salmon in Whale Bay the day before the king season opened on July 1.

Wildlife troopers escorted the Chief Joseph back to Sitka and ordered Angelo to deliver the caught salmon to a processor, forfeiting $691 in proceeds to the state. Both men were then allowed to fish in the opening.

Angelo was also cited for failing to display his commercial numbers on the boat and sentenced to three years’ probation. 29-year-old Hurst – a resident of Fort Bragg, CA – was placed on probation for two years.

The same day he sentenced the Chief Joseph crew, Judge Devaney ordered 23-year-old Douglas McNamee to pay $1,500 in fines by August 8 for tampering with someone else’s shellfish pots and furnishing sport-caught shellfish to a client.

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