Four fishermen from Homer and Anchor Point were found guilty of herding thousands of salmon out of closed waters and illegally harvesting them in 2018. A Homer District Court Judge placed all of the men on probation and fined them thousands of dollars, but ultimately reduced most of those fines.
Last July, an Alaska State Wildlife Trooper observed the operators of the commercial seine vessels Little Star, Relentless, Northstar and Windstar making a “dedicated effort” in Dog Fish Bay south of Homer to drive salmon out of waters closed to commercial seining.
Troopers provided video of Mark Roth, father of Paul and Robert Roth, and Eric Winslow working for hours, using “hand plungers,” tools that create noise and bubbles that resemble predatory fish, and the vessels themselves, to push the salmon into open waters.
Last Wednesday, Homer Judge Margaret Murphy found the men guilty on nearly all charges, including driving salmon from closed waters, the illegal transportation and sale of the fish and harvesting in closed waters, all misdemeanors.
Paul Roth was the only one to escape a misdemeanor charge for driving salmon from closed waters, but he was fined $4,000 with half of that suspended. He was also forced to forfeit his share of the fish seized by troopers, totaling about 30,000 pounds, to the state.
His brother Mark and co-defendant Winslow also forfeited their share of the fish. Mark received an $11,000 fine, but will only be responsible for paying $2,500. Winslow was fined a similar amount, but also had a significant portion suspended and will be on the hook for $3,700. The last Roth brother, Robert, was fined $3,000, but will only pay half of that.
All of the men will have about a year to pay those fines and will serve a one-year probation sentence. Judge Murphy provided her reasoning for the seemingly light sentence to the defendants from the bench, but not in court documents.
Correction: A previous version of this story misreported the relation between Mark, Paul and Robert Roth. Mark is the father of Paul and Robert.