UNALASKA (AP) -- A sexual harassment case prosecuted under the Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act is set for trial in September, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Antonio A. Donovo is charged with sexual harassment of an observer on the fishing vessel Dona Martita on Aug. 9-15, 2001, according to U.S. Attorney Audrey J. Renschen, in Anchorage.
The non-jury trial is set for Sept. 16 in Anchorage before Magistrate Harry Branson.
The Dona Martita is a Bering Sea trawler owned by Trident Seafoods.
''This is an important case because of the level of harassment and because we believe it to be the first sexual harassment case to be criminally prosecuted under the Magnuson Act,'' said a report from the National Marine Fisheries' Service's Office for Law Enforcement in Juneau.
The case involves the physical harassment of an observer by the vessel's operator, according to the report.
NMFS enforcement agent Kevin Heck said the regulations are designed to provide observers with a work environment free from any type of harassment that could jeopardize their ability to collect fisheries data essential to managing.
''Protecting observers is one of the highest enforcement priorities for the Alaska enforcement division, and any type of harassment against observers will be aggressively pursued,'' Heck said.
In a previous case, NMFS fined Peter Pan Seafoods $40,000, with $25,000 suspended, for an incident involving a federal fisheries observer at the company's plant in King Cove. The agency determined that an observer was sexually harassed by 15-20 processing line workers over several months beginning in April 2000.
As part of the out-of-court settlement, Peter Pan agreed to increase training of its plant employees and to arrange for production of a training video addressing sexual harassment in the fish processing plant environment.
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