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Kotzebue Fisherman Faces Charges of Waste after Letting 100 Salmon Rot in Gillnet

An fishermen delivers fall season fish to a buyer in Emmonak. Photo: Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 2007.

A Kotzebue commercial fisherman faces charges of waste after Alaska State Troopers allege he left more than 100 salmon caught in a gillent to rot.

Troopers issued a summons Wednesday Aug. 6 for Roswell Schaeffer Sr., 66, for “waste of salmon” after Troopers said he abandoned a half shackle of commercial gillnet in the waters of the Kotzebue Commercial Fishing District filled with 103 salmon.

Troopers did not reveal where the net was found, but said they were given an anonymous complaint about a net and its location. After speaking with Schaeffer about the net, Troopers issued him a summons to appear in court to face the misdemeanor charge.

If convicted Schaeffer could face up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. A Trooper spokesperson said in an email that it’s more likely Schaeffer’s net will be forfeited and he’ll pay restitution and other fines.

The neglected gillnet wasn’t Schaeffer’s first run-in related to fishing this summer: he was fined $250 in July after he was found to be employing an unlicensed crew member.

Though the fish were found to be unfit for human consumption, as they had started to rot, they weren’t a total waste. Troopers said they were donated to a local musher who put them to good use feeding his dog team.