Michael Tosatto, administrator of the Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) of the National Marine Fisheries Service, says his office requires holders of longline permits “to list the business and to declare (under penalty of perjury) that the information is true. We exercise due diligence in all cases and will routinely inquire further for a first-time applicant or when there is some reason (such as a different owner listed on the U.S.C.G. document). Any apparent issues will be clarified or provided to the [Office of Law Enforcement] for investigation. There is some expectation that the owner will maintain good business standing … and any change in the submitted application information must be reported to PIRO in writing within 15 days of the change. Failure to report such changes may result in a permit sanction.”
There are 149 permits listed on PIRO’s website, including one, Miss Emma, that burned at sea in September. Environment Hawai‘i reviewed records for the 148 remaining and found 20 instances of permits held by businesses that were not in good standing with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA). Three had been administratively dissolved.
In the case of 12 permits, ownership records provided to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) diverge from those on the PIRO list. Four vessels on PIRO’s list do not appear on the WCPFC registry, while the WCPFC registry lists one Honolulu-based vessel that does not appear on PIRO’s list.
Twenty-nine of the permits are held ultimately by one of four companies: Dang Vessel Holdings, LLC; Dang Fishery, Inc.; Nguyen Fishery, Inc.; and Pacific Fishing and Supply, Inc. Those companies, in turn, have the identical roster of officers or members: Hanh Thi Nguyen, Minh Hoang Dang, Sean Dang, and Kang Dang.
Five vessels are held by Vessel Management Associates, Inc., whose owners – Sean Martin and Jim Cook – have been leaders of the Hawai‘i Longline Association and who have frequently served on the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council. — Patricia Tummons