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Fishing Fines Returned After Investigation

This article is more than 8 years old.

The U.S. Commerce Secretary on Tuesday ordered nearly $650,000 in fines returned to fishermen after a special investigator determined the penalties were excessive or unjust.

Secretary Gary Locke appointed the investigator last year after a report by his department's inspector general flagged several questionable penalties against Northeast fishermen.

For years, fishermen from that region have complained of abusive treatment and excessive fines by the officers and attorneys charged with enforcing the nation's fishery laws.

Investigator Charles Swartwood ended up reviewing 30 cases, and Locke is returning the penalties, or portions of penalties, in 11 cases, based on Swartwood's recommendations. Most of the total returned fines came in one case, for $400,000.

Locke said in a memo that by returning penalties, he was emphasizing that fishery enforcement exists to serve fishermen.

This program aired on May 17, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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