Fisherman sentenced for poaching sea cucumbers in closed area

A bin of seized sea cucumbers (Photo from Alaska State Trooper Facebook page)
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A southeast Alaska commercial fisherman convicted of illegally taking sea cucumbers from a state research area has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined more than $35,000.

Alaska State Troopers say 45-year-old Jonathan McGraw Jr. of Naukati Bay pleaded guilty last week to fishing in closed waters of Whale Pass and providing false information on a fish ticket. Both are misdemeanors.

Wildlife troopers determined that McGraw in late 2017 and early 2018 harvested sea cucumbers in the research area where commercial diving is never permitted.

He was fined $35,228. The fine matched the value of the sea cucumbers caught on seven occasions and totaling 7,506 pounds. According to Alaska State Troopers, sea cucumbers are sold for more than $5 per pound for use in culinary and medicinal purposes.

Troopers say that they originally heard of McGraw's illegal activities from a tipster, and they found a tote full of sea cucumbers on the boat. Troopers also arrested two other crewmembers.

McGraw will lose his commercial fishing privileges and be on probation for one year.

Naukati Bay is on Prince of Wales Island.

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