Japanese fishing boat owner to plead guilty to pollution violations in Guam

Fukuichi Maru No. 112 Image: MarineTraffic.com/Bridge Valley Fukuichi Maru No. 112

A Japanese fishing fleet owner is expected to enter a guilty plea in US federal court for pollution violations committed by the crew of one of its vessels prior to berthing in Guam last April.

Fukuichi Gyogyo Kabushiki Kaisha is expected to plead guilty to two counts of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and one count of obstruction of an agency proceeding after one of the crewmembers of the tuna purse seiner Fukuichi Maru No. 112 admitted to a number of violations.

The charges were originally filed against the owner after US Coast Guard personnel who boarded the vessel uncovered evidence that the crew had dumped oily waste, oily bilge water, animal carcasses, and other rubbish into the ocean before arriving in Guam's Apra Harbor.

Coast guard inspectors also found that the vessel's oil and garbage record books had been tampered with to conceal the fact that the waste had been simply tossed overboard and not discarded through the vessel's oil-water separator or incinerator as was required by law.

Court documents state Fukuichi Maru No. 112's chief engineer admitted to the violations when questioned by the coast guard.

The owner is expected to pay a US$1.5 million criminal fine and to secure permission from the appropriate authorities prior to sailing in US waters as part of the plea deal.

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