Fish importer fined $400,000
A Spanish fishing fleet owner who was charged with submitting altered documentation to get a shipment of Chilean sea bass into Miami in May of 2004 has been ordered to pay a $400,000 fine and been sentenced in U.S. District Court to four years of probation.
In a plea bargain agreement, Antonio Vidal Pego pleaded guilty to one charge of obstruction and all other charges in the case were dropped. In addition, his Uruguayan company Falidur must pay a fine of $100,000. The company also forfeited the price of the $314,000 shipment, which was seized by federal officials in Miami.
The case was significant because it marked the first effort by the government to stop unauthorized shipments of the pricey, but environmentally threatened sea bass.
The fish can only be harvested when the country with jurisdiction over the waters issues a license for the catch.