Karen Sack, director of international ocean conservation for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement in response to a major decision that sends a strong message to those engaged in large-scale illegal fishing. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered three defendants to pay $54.9 million in restitution to the South African government for illegally taking lobsters from the country's waters over a five year period.
“Pew applauds the court for recognizing the severity of this crime and appropriately ordering such a high penalty.
“These defendants stole an environmental asset from South Africa, and it is only fair that they pay the country back for that theft. This unprecedented ruling shows that the U.S. can and will take concerted action to stop illegal fishing and bring those U.S. citizens engaging in it to justice, whether it has occurred within or outside of U.S. waters. Most of the illegal catch was shipped to the United States for sale. This is the largest ever restitution awarded by a U.S. court under the historic Lacey Act, one of the oldest American conservation laws that protects plants and wildlife by establishing civil and criminal penalties for a wide array of violations, and most notably prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, transported, or sold.”
For more, visit Pew's Global Campaign to End Illegal Fishing.