Fishing Boat Owner Convicted of Ocean Dumping

SEATTLE (CN) – The owner of a commercial fishing vessel has been convicted on felony charges of discharging oily waste directly into Washington state coastal waters.

A federal jury convicted Bingham Fox on Thursday of violating the Clean Water Act after a week-long trial.

Fox and his son Randall dumped and ordered crew members to dump oil and bilge wastes from his commercial fishing vessel Native Son into U.S. waters near Blaine, Washington, as well as on the open ocean, according to the original 2016 indictment.

The scheme went on from 2011 until 2013, the indictment said.

The Native Sun had multiple long-term mechanical problems that put substantial amounts of oil in its bilges.  The vessel was also leaky, so the bilges constantly filled with a mixture of oil and seawater.  Bingham Fox had at least one illegal pump installed on board and directed others to regularly dump oily waste from the bilges, even in port, according to evidence presented at trial.

Randall Fox pleaded guilty on March 17 to conspiring with others to discharge oily wastes into the ocean when the Native Sun was offshore.

“This criminal conviction clearly shows that treating our oceans as a dump has serious consequences. Law-abiding vessel operators know the importance of compliance with our nation’s environmental laws, but those that flout those laws will face justice,” acting Assistant Attorney General Jeff Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in a statement.

Bingham Fox faces up to five years in prison and a criminal fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik scheduled sentencing for July 11, 2017.

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