Rick Nguyen, 37, of Buras, and Hung Anh Tiet, 29, of Dallas, Texas, both pleaded guilty Thursday to the intentional concealment of illegal fish.
Judge Kevin Conner ordered both men to pay a fine of $950 plus courts costs. In addition, both Nguyen and Tiet had there set line licenses and state shark permits revoked for life. Both men are also forbidden to involve themselves in any way in the shark industry for a period of two years.
This conviction was a result of a joint enforcement patrol with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement on April 8.
LDWF agents made contact with Nguyen and Tiet while responding to an anonymous complaint from offshore recreational fishermen of over the commercial daily limit of sharks. Agents stopped the vessel “Lady Lyanna” in Tiger Pass located in Venice.
Upon immediate inspection of the vessel, agents found whole sharks located on the deck. After further investigation, agents found a hidden compartment in the bow of the vessel that contained 12 large sacks of shark fins. The bodies of the sharks belonging to the fins were not on the vessel.
Shark “finning” is an illegal practice of removing the shark’s fins, which are the most profitable part of the shark, and then discarding the rest of the shark’s body overboard.
The two men were in possession of 2,073 individual shark fins and 11 whole sharks. The 2,073 individual fins represent a total of 518 sharks bringing the total number of sharks possessed to 529. The daily commercial limit for sharks in Louisiana is 33 per vessel placing the two men 496 sharks over their daily limit.
Federal prosecution is still pending by the NOAA General Counsel Office for the over limit and shark finning allegations.