Saxis waterman pleads guilty to illegal harvesting of rockfish

June 15, 2023
Virginia Rockfish

By Linda Cicoira

A Saxis man pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk to violating the Lacey Act by illegally harvesting and selling at least 12,663 pounds of rockfish that was worth nearly $37,000.

According to court documents, 52-year-old Keith J. Martin, was licensed to harvest the fish in Virginia, but he took more than his quota, failed to report the amount of bass he took, and completed at least one sale of rockfish with a commercial purchaser without using a properly certified scale.

Between 2018 and 2020, Martin had a quota of 4,010 pounds of rockfish, an announcement stated. Investigators learned that Martin sold over 6,000 pounds of the fish to a single seafood company in Maryland in 2018 and more than 4,300 pounds to the same company in 2019. the combination of violating state law and transporting the fish to Maryland, constitutes a violation of the Lacey Act.

Sentencing was set for Oct. 26. The maximum penalty is five years in prison. Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Edward Grace, Assistant Director of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph L. Kosky prosecuted the case.

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