Two Texas men have been arrested after their boat was stopped and wildlife officers found fins from more than 500 sharks on board.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents participated in a joint enforcement patrol that resulted in two men arrested for alleged fishing violations in Plaquemines Parish on April 8.
Agents arrested Rick Nguyen, 37, of Buras, and Hung Anh Tiet, 29, of Dallas, Texas, for over the limit of sharks taken commercially, shark “finning” and intentional concealment of illegal fish and booked them into the Plaquemines Parish Jail.
Agents made contact with Nguyen and Tiet while responding to an anonymous complaint. Agents stopped the vessel “Lady Lyanna” in Tiger Pass located in Venice.
Agents found 11 whole sharks located on the deck and a hidden compartment in the bow of the vessel that contained 12 large sacks of shark fins totaling 2,073 fins. The bodies of the fins found in the sacks were not found on the vessel.
The 2,073 individual fins represent a total of 518 sharks possessed by the two fishermen 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.
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.
Over the daily commercial limit of sharks and shark “finning” each bring up to a $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Intentional concealment of illegal fish or game carries a fine up to $950 and up to 120 days in jail.
LDWF agents are continuing their investigation into this case and more penalties could be pending including civil restitution for the value of the illegally taken sharks. Nguyen and Tiet face up to $26,450 in civil restitution penalties based off of an estimated value of $50 per shark.