SITKA, Alaska (AP) — Alaska wildlife troopers have confiscated catch from a fishing industry lobbyist suspected of fishing in closed waters, officials said.
Bob Thorstenson Jr., 55, was commercial fishing Sunday when wildlife troopers cited him for fishing within 200 yards (183 meters) of a protected salmon stream near Sitka, CoastAlaska reported Thursday.
The stream acts as a buffer to protect native pink salmon that have become vulnerable near freshwater streams because of drought conditions, said Eric Coonradt, a state Department of Fish and Game area biologist.
“Anybody coming in there with a seine could easily mop up 90% of the run for the year for that stream,” the Sitka-based fisheries manager said.
Thorstenson’s seine nets collected more than 40 tons (36 metric tons) of hatchery chum salmon that was seized and turned over to a seafood processor, wildlife officials said.
He could face fines up to $15,000, a year in prison and the gross value of the catch, estimated at about $50,000, if convicted of the misdemeanor, officials said.
Thorstenson didn’t think he was over the line and has plans to contest the charge, CoastAlaska reported.
This is not the first time Thorstenson has violated fishing regulations, officials said. In 2010, he was cited for commercial fishing without a permit.
Thorstenson is a longtime state-registered lobbyist as recently as last year and was former executive director of Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, officials said. His father was one of the founders of Icicle Seafoods Inc., a seafood processor and wholesaler popular across the state.