Agents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries cited three men aboard the commercial fishing vessel “Jasmine” on Wednesday for alleged tuna violations in Plaquemines Parish.
While on a Joint Enforcement Agreement patrol in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, LDWF agents made contact with James A. Gerakines, 41, and Charles Updegraff, 52, both of Chalmette, and Perry Menesses, 58, of St. Bernard in the area of Tiger Pass.
During a federal fish inspection, the men were found to be in possession of numerous skipjack and yellowfin tuna, according to a press release. After a lengthy investigation, agents determined that Gerakines allegedly intended to sell the tuna upon his return to Venice, the release states.
Agents determined that no federal commercial highly migratory species permit was on board or issued for the vessel or the captain, and that of the eight yellowfin tuna on board, six were under the minimum size of 27 inches.
All three men were charged with failing to comply with taking or possessing tuna without the required commercial HMS permit, and taking or possessing undersized yellowfin tuna. Each of the two charges carries up to a $350 fine and 60 days in jail.
Additionally the men face civil restitution charges for the illegally taken tuna totaling $1,290.20. Agents seized a total of 285 pounds of tuna and donated it to a local homeless shelter, the release states.