Chris Lischewski, then the CEO of Bumble Bee Foods, clutches a cup of coffee as he stands outside the former Stinson Seafood sardine cannery in the Gouldsboro village of Prospect Harbor on March 12, 2010. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Chris Lischewski, a former seafood executive who is known for shutting down the nation’s last sardine cannery, will not be released from prison before completing his sentence for fixing the price of tuna, a judge has ruled.

Lischewski, the former CEO of Bumble Bee Foods, was sentenced last year in federal court in California for conspiring to fix the price of tuna with rival tuna firms Chicken of the Sea and Starkist. He was sentenced to serve 40 months in federal prison and fined $100,000 after being convicted at trial of being actively involved in a conspiracy that affected more than $600 million of tuna sales between 2011 and 2013.

Bumble Bee Foods pleaded guilty and paid a $25 million fine for its involvement in the scheme.

Last month, Lischewski petitioned the court to be released early from prison, citing his age of 61, his high cholesterol and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as reasons why he should be allowed to complete his sentence under home confinement. He’s been serving his sentence in federal prison in Tucson, Arizona, and is scheduled to be released in June 2023.

Judge Edward M. Chen denied his request.

In Maine, Lischewski is known for his involvement in bringing an end to sardine canning in the state and the country.

In 2010, prior to helping to instigate the tuna scheme, Lischewski decided to shut down the Stinson Seafood plant in Gouldsboro, which by then was the last remaining sardine cannery in the country. Lischewski traveled to Maine in March 2010, shortly after the cannery’s closure was announced, to meet with 128 workers who were losing their jobs and then-Gov. John Baldacci.

Since the sardine cannery closed, it has been re-opened twice as a lobster-processing plant, first by Live Lobster in 2011 and then by East Coast Seafood in 2013. East Coast Seafood closed the plant last year and has an agreement to sell the property to American Aquafarms, which says it will use it as a processing facility for salmon that it hopes to grow nearby in Frenchman Bay.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....