Two brothers have been accused by the city of San Diego in a civil complaint of operating a commercial fishing business in violation of state laws designed to prevent overfishing and environmental exploitation, the San Diego City Attorney’s office announced Friday.
Tanner and Trevor Whitmarsh were named in the complaint that says they operated a commercial fishing business under the cover of recreational sportfishing excursions, according to Richard Jackoway of San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott’s office.
“They would then sell the fish caught on those excursions to local seafood restaurants, sushi restaurants, and other fish-related businesses dozens of times, bringing in nearly $30,000 in illicit profit,” Jackoway said. “The fish were often caught in Mexican waters from the Whitmarshes’ sportfishing boat Deadeye. Neither of the brothers had the proper licenses to sell fish to consumers, fish commercially in Mexican waters, or sell fish from Mexico in the United States.
“Additionally, the brothers’ scheme gave them an unfair business advantage over competitors by avoiding laws licensed fishermen follow,” he continued. “They were therefore able to sell their fish at lower prices than their competitors.”
Among the accusations against Tanner Whitmarsh are:
— Catching grouper, bass, and parrotfish in Mexico without the required licenses and allegedly returning to San Diego without filing the proper paperwork and illegally selling the grouper to a La Mesa sushi restaurant;
— Selling approximately 330 pounds of tuna obtained from a sportfisherman who did not hold a commercial fishing license at the time of sale. Whitmarsh allegedly falsely reported on the landing receipts that he had caught the tuna;
— Selling a 200-pound Mako shark for a sportfisherman without landing receipts or other accounting records.
Trevor Whitmarsh conducted business in 2021 and 2022 as a commercial fisherman without holding a City of San Diego Business Tax Certificate. Among the accusations against him are:
— Repeatedly taking sport fisherman on fishing trips aboard his commercial fishing boat, even though he did not possess a Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel license or a commercial ocean fishing enhancement;
— Illegally selling fish to San Diego seafood restaurants and fish- related businesses;
— Failing to create or submit any landing receipts regarding those sales.
The civil complaint asked a court to permanently enjoin the Whitmarshes from continuing their conduct and also seeks civil penalties, investigative costs, and other equitable relief for defendants’ alleged violation of the law.
–City News Service