Alaska Restaurant Owner Pleads Guilty for Selling Illegally-Caught Halibut


Shutterstock/Galyna Andrushko

Subsistence and sport fish are not meant to be bought for restaurants.

A restaurant in Ketchikan, Alaska, pleaded guilty to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for illegally purchasing 997 pounds of halibut caught by subsistence and sport fishing, and selling it to customers for profit.

Donald Ray Thornlow, former owner of Narrows Inn and Restaurant, bought the halibut from three fishermen between January 2012 and December 2013, according to Alaska Dispatch News. [slideshow:4261

Subsistence fishing is usually carried out by people who are poor with the intention to feed their family. Sport fishing is a form of recreational fishing where the end goal is to catch fish, not to eat or sell it. Both forms of fishing are illegal for restaurants to use in order to serve customers because the fish caught is usually below-market quality.

Thornlow faced some financial troubles in January 2012 and started buying the illegal fish. His employees informed law enforcement, and Thornlow pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act, which bans the trade of illegally sourced wildlife.


Thornlow must pay a $5,000 fine and will be placed on probation for one year.