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Press Release

Kenai man sentenced in unlicensed sport fishing guiding case; sport fishing vessel forfeit

October 12, 2018

(ANCHORAGE, AK) – On Friday, September 28, 2018, unlicensed Kenai River sport fishing guide William “Buck” Hollandsworth was sentenced to multiple misdemeanor counts relating to unlicensed guiding and unlawful acts by a fishing guide.

During the summer of 2017, Hollandsworth provided sport fish guiding services for king salmon fishing within the Kenai River Special Management Area to numerous paying anglers, despite not being licensed by the Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) or the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) State Parks to do so. State park rangers from the Kenai River office investigated Hollandsworth and found that on multiple occasions he guided paying clients pursuing king salmon. In addition to illegally guiding, Hollandsworth allowed clients to fish with bait when the river was open only for fishing with a single unbaited hook, operated his unregistered sport fishing guide vessel after 6:00 p.m, and allowed a client to continue fishing after catching the daily limit of king salmon.

In late July of 2017, park rangers and wildlife troopers contacted Hollandsworth while he was guiding a boat full of out-of-state anglers. Rangers were aware that Hollandsworth had been acting as an unlicensed guide for some time, and they applied for and received a warrant to seize the aluminum Wooldridge boat, trailer, and all fishing gear and electronics on the vessel as they were items used in aid of violations of the fishing regulations.

In June of 2018 Hollandsworth was tried on seven counts, including Providing Sport Fishing Guide Services without Registering with ADF&G, Providing Sport Fish Guide Services on the Kenai River without Registering with DNR State Parks, Operating Sport Fish Guide Vessel without Guide Sticker, Providing Sport Fish Guide Services in the Kenai River Special Management Area without a Permit, and three counts of Fishing Guide Aiding in or Permitting Violation of Law. A Kenai Peninsula jury found him guilty on all counts.

On September 28, 2018, the defendant was sentenced by the district court in Kenai. The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Aaron Peterson, from the Department of Law, Office of Special Prosecutions, argued, "The Kenai River is the lifeblood of the Peninsula. Soldotna bills itself as ‘Alaska’s Playground,’ and it is, because of the river and its world famous king salmon. The Kenai King numbers have dwindled over the years, but anglers from all over the state and the world descend on the Kenai Peninsula every summer in hopes of hauling in a world class fish. The anglers sustain businesses large and small, from Kenai Lake to Cook Inlet. Protection of natural resources in this state is of paramount importance, and nowhere is it more important than on the Kenai Peninsula. Without active fishing management, vigorous enforcement of the regulations, and significant sentencing these fish will be wiped out and the sport, subsistence, and economic opportunity of thousands of Alaskans gone with them.”

“This is one of the only places on earth where residents can drive a short distance from their home and fish for large wild king salmon,” said Mr. Peterson. “That will only remain true if management is taken seriously and punishment for violating the regulations designed to ensure healthy populations are severe.”

The court imposed a sentence including a $35,000 fine, 30 days in jail with 20 suspended, and forfeited the aluminum Wooldridge boat, EZ Loader trailer, all seized fishing gear, and all electronics on the vessel to the State of Alaska. Further, the court ordered that Hollandsworth be placed on probation for one year during which time he may not fish and may not be in a boat on the Kenai River with persons that are fishing.

The case was investigated by the Alaska Park Rangers from the Kenai River office and Alaska Wildlife Troopers from the Wildlife Investigations Unit based in Anchorage.

CONTACT: Assistant Attorney General Aaron Peterson at (907) 269-6250.

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