Five Maine fishermen and one fisherman from New Hampshire have been charged by federal investigators with catching and selling millions of pounds of unreported Atlantic herring.
Glenn Robbins, 75, of Eliot; Neil Herrick, 46, of Rockland; Andrew Banow, 35, of Rockport; Stephen Little, 56, of Warren; Jason Parent, 49, of Owls Head; Ethan Chase, 44, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, were indicted Thursday on 35 counts of conspiracy, fraud and falsifying fishing records, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office. Also indicted was Western Sea, Inc., the business that owns the Rockland-based vessel used to catch the fish.
The six men are accused of making more than 80 fishing trips for herring in the Gulf of Maine on the vessel Western Sea between June of 2016 and September of 2019, and not reporting their catch to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA is tasked with maintaining accurate fishing records in order to set policies to sustain fisheries.
The indictment alleges that the crew members sold more than 2.6 million pounds of herring to five fish dealers and three lobster boat captains. The dealers and lobstermen, who are not identified in the indictment, directly paid the accused herring fishermen for their unreported catch.
Three of the dealers paid the fishermen more than $460,000 for the unreported herring. Dollar estimates for what other buyers paid for the unreported fish was not included in the indictment.
Edward MacColl, a Portland defense lawyer who represents Robbins and Chase in the case, did not respond Friday evening to an email seeking comment. Defense attorneys for the other fishermen were not listed in federal court records.
Bangor Daily News reporter Bill Trotter contributed to this story.