Shrimper Pleads Guilty|to Shooting Dolphin

     (CN) – An Alabama man pleaded guilty to knowingly shooting a dolphin with a shotgun while shrimping in the Mississippi Sounds in 2012, the Justice Department said.
     Brent Buchanan, 38, of Bayou La Batre, Ala., entered his pleas in the federal court in Gulfport, Miss., to a misdemeanor charge of knowingly taking a protected marine mammal, a federal crime under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
     The Act is a federal law which makes it illegal to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or to attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, any marine mammal in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States. The Act protects all species of dolphins, as well as other marine mammals such as whales and seals.
     The case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement, with assistance from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine, the Alabama Marine Police, and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resource Division.
     The case was prosecuted by Gaines Cleveland of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi and the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
     Buchanan was released on $25,000 bail and must appear for a sentencing hearing in Gulfport on Feb. 24, 2012.
     At that time, he faces a maximum penalty is one year in prison, a $100,000 fine, and a $25 special assessment. He is represented by VIncent Castigliola Jr. of BRyan, Nelson, Schroeder, Castigliola and Banahan of Gulfport.

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