December 29, 2004
Contact: Sgt. Russ Mullins (WDFW), (360) 201-0638; Or: Brian Gorman (NMFS), (206) 526-6613
Skagit chinook poacher pays state fines, could also face federal ESA penalties
OLYMPIA - Enforcement officers
with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have cited a Mount
Vernon man for multiple fishing violations, including possessing wild chinook
salmon, which are protected from harvest under the federal Endangered Species
Melvin R. Kingma, 65, was
cited Oct. 13 for illegal take and possession of seven wild chinook from the
lower Skagit River. Kingma was observed fishing with multiple fishing poles,
which is against state regulations.
In addition to the seven
chinook, Kingma was also in possession of 18 coho salmon. He was cited for possessing
more fish than the personal limit allowed. Kingma paid a total of $600 in state
Kingma could also face federal
penalties because the chinook salmon he possessed are listed as a threatened
species under the ESA. Chinook have been off-limits to anglers in the Skagit
A similar poaching incident
occurred in 2001 when a Mount Vernon man was caught with a 40-pound chinook
taken from the Skagit River. The man was fined $5,000 for violating the ESA,
and his 16-foot custom-built fishing boat was seized.
The investigation into Kingma's
activities was conducted by enforcement officers from WDFW and the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement
(NOAA OLE), and is an example of the ongoing joint enforcement efforts to protect
fish species with federal ESA protection.
commercial fishers and others have all made painful sacrifices over the years
to reverse the downward spiral of weak salmon stocks, and Mr. Kingma's actions
demonstrate a total disregard for those sacrifices," said WDFW Enforcement
Chief Bruce Bjork. "Our ongoing partnership with NOAA OLE will help us
protect fish and wildlife resources."
The ESA was passed by Congress
in 1973 and is administered by NOAA OLE and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The act is designed to save species and their habitats when other efforts have
failed. NOAA OLE is responsible for species that spend most of their lives in
marine waters, including marine fish, salmon and most marine mammals.
Vicki Nomura, special agent
in charge for the northwest region of NOAA Fisheries OLE, said the agency has
appropriated more than $885,000 to WDFW for joint enforcement patrols over the
next two years to protect and conserve marine resources.
"We will continue working
with and through our state enforcement counterparts to prosecute serious actions
taken by individuals and organizations that violate wildlife laws such as the
Endangered Species Act," Nomura said.