By Mark Edward Nero
On March 16, a captain of the fishing vessel Native Sun pleaded guilty in federal court in Seattle, Washington to discharging oily-waste directly into the ocean in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and the federal conspiracy statute.
Randall Fox pleaded guilty to two criminal felony counts for violating prohibition against discharging bilge water directly into the ocean.
According to court documents, Fox and others repeatedly discharged the oil-contaminated bilge water into the ocean using unapproved submersible pumps and hoses. On at least one occasion, such a discharge left a sizable oily-sheen along the surface of the water that trailed alongside the F/V Native Sun.
Fox faces a maximum of six years in prison for the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships count and five years in prison for the conspiracy count. He also faces a criminal fine of up to $250,000 for each count. Sentencing is scheduled for June 16.
According to the charges, the conspirators directed the installation of the aforementioned illegal pumps and hoses, directed co-conspirators to empty the bilges regularly, and instructed the co-conspirators to conceal any evidence of the discharges by dispersing the sheen with detergents.
Vessel owner Bingham Fox pled not guilty to all charges in April 2016, and is scheduled to go to trial on March 21.