Twighlight Marine, Ltd., Pleads Guilty and to Pay $100,000 to Environmental Restoration Fund for Grossly Negligent Operation of a Vessel
OAKLAND – LAWFUEL U.S. Attorney Scott Schools announced that $800,000 has now been collected for environmental restoration projects in the San Francisco Bay as a result of three shipping pollution prosecutions. Yesterday, Twighlight Marine, Ltd., pleaded guilty to grossly negligent operation of a vessel and was sentenced to pay a $50,000 criminal fine, $100,000 in restitution to be added to the restoration fund, and ordered to comply with an Environmental Compliance Plan.
Twighlight Marine is a Maltese corporation and owner of the motor vessel Warrior (“M/V Warrior”), a 38,880-ton ocean-going bulk cargo ship, registered in Malta. Twighlight Marine admitted that its Master and other shipboard employees operated the vessel in a grossly negligent manner that endangered the life, limb, and property of a person.
In pleading guilty, Twighlight Marine admitted that in September 2006, the M/V Warrior crossed the Atlantic Ocean, traveling toward North America. During this crossing, several sailors onboard the M/V Warrior identified several small cracks and rust holes in the starboard side deck of the M/V Warrior. The crew immediately welded these cracks and holes. Soon after, several sailors identified two large cracks, each approximately three feet in length, on the port side deck of the vessel. Instead of directing that the cracks be welded, the vessel’s Master ordered these cracks to be covered with tape and painted over to blend in with the painting on the deck. Twighlight Marine admitted that it knew its vessel was in a hazardous condition during the Atlantic crossing in that these two cracks were not properly repaired.
In November 2006, the M/V Warrior arrived in the San Francisco Bay. On November 22, 2006, the Coast Guard boarded the vessel to conduct an inspection. During this inspection, the Coast Guard discovered the two large cracks on the Port side of the deck which Twighlight Marine failed to disclose.
Northern Coastal California Restoration Fund Brought to $800,000
Restitution in this case was directed to be paid into the previously created Northern Coastal California Restoration Fund, which was previously seeded with $700,000 in restitution from two prior criminal cases. The first case was United States v. Hoegh Fleet Services, in which the Norwegian operator of the motor ship the Hoegh Minerva paid $500,000 in restitution into the Fund for violating the False Statement Statute, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, and Failing to Maintain an Accurate Oil Record Book, in violation of 33 U.S.C. § 1908. The second case was United States v. MMS Co., Ltd., in which the Japanese operator of the motor vessel the Spring Drake paid $200,000 in restitution into the Fund for Failing to Maintain an Accurate Oil Record Book, in violation of 33 U.S.C. § 1908.
The monies in this fund have thus far been used as follows:
‚ Project Title: Bahia Wetlands Restoration
Grantee: Marin Audubon Society
Foundation Non-Federal Funds: $100,100
Matching Funds: $1,539,747
The Marin Audubon Society is turning 65 acres of diked and filled lands within the Bahia Wetlands Complex into productive tidal marsh providing environmental and habitat for the species that depend on these marshes.
‚ Project Title: Giacomini Wetlands Restoration
Grantee: Point Reyes national Seashore Association
Foundation Non-Federal Funds: $150,000
Matching Funds: $1,697,950
The Point Reyes National Seashore Association and its partners will focus on removal or breaching of levees from the eastern portion of the Giacomini Ranch, part of the north district of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. After removal of the levee material, native plants will be propagated and volunteers will install the plants in 200 acres of habitat.
‚ Project Title: Southeast Farallon Island National Environmental Policy Act Analysis
Grantee: Island Conservation
Foundation Non-Federal Funds: $149,500
Matching Funds: $0
The islands of the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge host the largest seabird colonies in the United States outside of Alaska and Hawaii and serve as nesting habitat for more than 11 species of seabirds. The Island Conservation will coordinate a multi-agency partnership to determine alternative methods for removing invasive, non-native house mice from Southeastern Farallon Island and to produce an environmental assessment/environmental impact statement for full scale eradication.
‚ Project Title: Mattole Estuary Conservation Initiative
Grantee: Mattole Restoration Council
Foundation Non-Federal Funds: $148,400
Matching Funds: $60,390
The Mattole Restoration Council will lead the effort to enhance fish and wildlife habitat in the ecologically-critical Mattole River estuary. This includes acquiring an 80 acre area within the estuary reserve section of the King Range National Conservation Area, research and monitoring of fish populations and habitat conditions, eradication of newly-emerging invasive plant populations and on-the-ground habitat restoration for the benefit of Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.
‚ Project Title: Redwood Creek Reconnection and Enhancement
Grantee: National Park Service – Golden Gate national Recreation Area
Foundation Non-Federal Funds: $31,050
Matching Funds: $330,000
The National park Service will hire a volunteer coordinator to manage the growing and planting of native plants in the restoration area, to hire and oversee a contractor to remove cape ivy and lead volunteers to remove cape ivy roots to prevent future infestations. The project will enhance summer rearing and winter refugia habitat for federally-listed coho salmon and steelhead trout, by installing engineered log structures, reconnect the creek with a 7-acre historic flood plain by removing berms along portions of the channel, and constructing a large emergent wetland to provide long-term sustainable habitat for a resident population of the endangered California red-legged frog.
‚ Project Title: Fishing Poles for Education
Grantee: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Foundation Non-Federal Funds: $3,300
Matching Funds: $1,000
This project will assist the Refuge by purchasing equipment to continue the successful Fishing Poles for Education program in which participants (1) experience a series of stations designed to teach visitors the basic aspects of catch and release in the San Francisco Bay; (2) discover organisms that live in the Bay; and (3) learn how minor modifications to everyday actions protect the Bay for wildlife and people.
‚ Project Title: San Francisco Bay Cats Indoors! Campaign
Grantee: American Bird Conservancy
Foundation Non-Federal Funds: $61,650
Matching Funds: $12,500
This joint project of the American Bird Conservancy, Golden Gate Audubon Society, and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Area National Wildlife Refuge provides for the humane trapping and removal of feral and abandoned cats and education of cat owners and the general public in order to enhance the survival of federally-listed endangered species vulnerable to cat predation on the refuge – California Clapper Rail, Western Snowy Plover, California Least Tern, and Saltmarsh Harvest Mouse
Maureen Bessette is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted all three of these cases with the assistance of Cynthia Daniel. The prosecution is the result of a three month investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, the Coast Guard Legal Office, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division.
A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.
Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at www.cand.uscourts.gov.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at [email protected]