Five Maine fishermen and one fisherman from New Hampshire took plea deals Monday, ending the trial for the multi-year scheme of selling unreported herring and forging fishing records.

The fishermen included Glenn Robbins of Eliot, Maine; Neil Herrick of Rockland, Maine; Stephen Little of Warren, Maine; Ethan Chase of Portsmouth, N.H.; and Jason Parent of Owls Head, Maine, were indicted in January 2022 on 35 counts of conspiracy, fraud, and falsifying fishing records. Western Seas Inc. owned the fishing vessel Western Sea, which was used to catch the fish.

Robbins owns the Western Seas and pleads guilty to conspiracy to submit false information to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce about his Atlantic herring catch and sale. According to Bangor Daily News, the defendants could receive sentences of up to a year in prison, fines of up to $100,000, and one year of supervised release.

The vessel engaged in more than 80 fishing trips for herring between June 2016 and September 2019, with a catch that was unreported to NOAA Fisheries. The indictment alleged that the crew had sold more than 2.6 million pounds of herring to five separate fish dealers and three lobster captains. Three of the dealers paid more than $460,000 for the unreported fish.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office paperwork states that the Western Sea underreported the fish caught while the boat was fishing. The crew then sold to fish buyers who underreported how much they had received. The crew was then paid in cash for fish caught above what was legally caught.

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and the Maine Marine Patrol investigated this case.

This article will be continuously updated as news becomes available.

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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