BOSTON (AP) — A luxury undercover boat purchased with fines collected from fishermen was used by federal fishery police to visit dockside restaurants and for high-speed “pleasure cruising,” according to documents released Friday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration bought the 35-foot boat for about $300,000, so its law enforcement officers could secretly monitor whether whale watch boats in Washington’s Puget Sound were harassing the animals.

But the documents indicate the boat was rarely used for official business.

“It was a fishermen-funded party boat for bureaucrats,” U.S. Sen. Scott Brown said on the Senate floor Friday.

The Massachusetts Republican’s office obtained the November 2011 documents after a Freedom of Information Act request.

The purchase of the boat was first disclosed in July 2010, as part of an audit by the Inspector General of the U.S. Commerce Department on how the millions in fines paid by fishermen were being used.

The audit uncovered broad mismanagement of the money; NOAA has since reformed how the fines are handled.

On Friday, Brown said the boat was a symbol of wasteful Washington spending and NOAA’s damaged relationship with fishermen. He repeated his request that President Barack Obama fire NOAA Chief Jane Lubchenco.

“This needs to change and accountability starts at the top,” he said. “If not now, when? If not for this, then for what?”

NOAA said it’s completely overhauled its enforcement program after the inspector general’s findings.

“We hired new leadership, implemented new policies to ensure consistent enforcement practices nationwide, and put in place better accounting and oversight systems,” the agency said in a statement.

NOAA’s law enforcement office can levy fines as large as six figures for violations of the nation’s complicated fisheries laws, which regulate things such as where fishermen can fish and at what times, what gear they can use and how they must report their catch.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Comments (10)
  1. Linda says:

    FIRE FIRE FIRE THEM ALL. Why was a $300,000.00 boat bought with fishing fines to begin with and who authorized the purchase ? These abusers need to reimburse the funds used for gas and oil also.

    1. Kristin says:

      This is just the tip of the ice berg! The corruption goes much deeper and has RUINED fishing communities and their famlies. Fishermen are for true conservation, not using bad data to support agendas. Please take a moment to read the following and pass on to as many people as possible:

  2. jay says:

    when will justice be the same for gov’t employees as it is for the great people who pay for this country. this is only half the story. when will the media report the whole story.

  3. 1stackmack says:

    hah,was it a fishing cruise for marlin or tuna.and we wonder why glocester and new bedford and almost ghost towns..

  4. Gone Fishin says:

    Though I’m not in any way surprised, this is a bleeping disgrace! The fact is that the legitimate fishermen in this country agree with maintaining the sustainability of our nations fishery. However, the governments over involvement is ridiculous and has forced many boat owners to give up and sell everything. I hope every American remembers the ridiculous amount of government corruption when filing their tax returns. The only way to stop government corruption is to stop funding it.

  5. sandy yates says:

    My husband was prosecuted by NOAA in Federal Court for 3 missing grouper (1/2 short). Four years we have been fighting them and are in appeal now. They are ruthless. Federal felony charges for 3 fish. They wanted 20 years and fines.

    1. cm says:

      I’ve heard stories like this all too often, ruthless seems to be an understatement when it comes to these organizations and it doesn’t seem to get any better or easier as time goes on. I sincerely hope and pray for a good outcome of your situation and that more issues like this become public to then expose other area’s of government persecuting people only to use the money for their own gains.
      Sickening to say the least. Lessons surely need to be learned here.

      1. Kristin says:

        Dear CM,
        Thank you for hoping some good comes out of this. Unfortunately, similar behavior has gone unpunished in the past. Once the initial outrage settles down, most people forget about the follow-up. If you have a moment, please take a second to check out this link. It gives a brief over view of the above and 500 people have signed and posted their first hand experiences with this corrupt agency.

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