DEQ issues notice of violation to trawler owner in Oriental

Crews aboard the Gaston Bell were spotted this week grinding paint from the vessel in open water on the Neuse River. A worker in Hazmat gear can be seen grinding paint in this photo.

The owner of the fishing trawler Chasity Brook has been issued a Notice of Violation from North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality. An NOV from the Division of Water Resources is pending.

The vessel came to the attention of Oriental police on Feb. 14, as crews were spotted grinding paint from its hull while it was docked in the Oriental harbor. The result was paint chips covering the surface of the water. Both DAQ and DWR investigated the issue.

At the time, the vessel’s owner, Christopher Fulcher, Fulcher’s Point Pride Seafood, was notified and the work was halted.

The NOV comes with a possible civil penalty of $25,000. Fulcher’s Point Pride Seafood has been issued two previous NOVs from the Division of Air Quality — in 2015 and 2018 — for the same infraction.

Another vessel, the Gaston Bell, was spotted Wednesday in open water on the Neuse River. According to the NC Watermen website, the Gaston Bell is also owned by Christopher Fulcher, Chesapeake Atlantic Seafood Harvest Inc., and is based in Oriental. On Wednesday, crews could be seen grinding paint from the hull and paint chips and dust were being discharged into the air and water. DEQ’s Division of Water Resources has been notified of the violation.