KNAPPA — State and federal officers arrested a local groundfish trawler deck boss Wednesday for allegedly assaulting, impeding or interfering with a federal fishery observer while the vessel was at sea in May.
Richard C. Palek, 46, is a deck boss out of Astoria and was charged with one federal misdemeanor violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. This act is in place to prevent forcible assault, resistance, opposition, intimidation, sexual harassment, bribery or interference with a fishery observer. If Palek is found guilty, he faces up to $100,000 in fines and up to six months in prison.
In an arraignment last week, Palek plead not guilty. His jury trial is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 21, in Portland Courtroom 10A before Judge Robert E. Jones.
In June, Deputy Assistant Administrator Samuel D. Rauch III told fishery management councils protecting observers is a priority for NOAA Fisheries.
“The success of fisheries management in the United States is due in no small part to a robust observer program and an effective partnership between NOAA, the councils, and the fishing industry,” he said in an email.
Astoria is the largest port in groundfish fisheries by volume landed and revenue and is the base for 23 fleet boats, which generated more than $17 million in revenue in 2012.