T. J.’s Bar and Grill fined $ 10,000
T. J.’s Bar and Grill in Kettle Falls has been fined $ 10,000 in a multi-year investigation into “illegal, unreported, unregulated and misbranding” of fish served at the restaurant.
The case was filed by the state Attorney General’s Public Lands and Conservation Division in the summer of 2022 against TJ’s Bar and Grill. The business was convicted on Tuesday of first- degree unlawful fish catch accounting and ordered to pay $ 10,000 in fines. Charges were dropped against the owner Terry Baxter in exchange for a plea deal and as part of the deal, the business did not admit guilt but acknowledged sufficient evidence was obtained by law enforcement for a guilty conviction had the case gone to trial.
The multi-year investigation by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife showed the restaurant commercially sold salmon that had been recreationally caught in Canada during the summer of 2019.
Baxter made several fishing trips across the border, bringing fish back to be served at the restaurant without necessary permits, paperwork or commercial licenses, according to WDFW, which added buying and selling fish and wildlife is highly regulated. WDFW noted in this case, none of the sold fish sold by TJ’s in the Summer of 2019 was tainted or unhealthy.
“WDFW Police are looking out for the public’s interest in these cases to protect both the resource and the consumers,” stated Brad Rhoden, WDFW Statewide Investigative Unit captain. “These investigations are conducted, and cases built, to ensure consumer confidence, resource conservation, and public safety.”
The investigation reportedly showed the restaurant brought in as much as $ 10,000 in revenue from April to September in 2019 by selling meals that included the recreationally caught fish.
WDFW has provided the restaurant with the necessary requirements to improve signage regarding fish meals. By law, a business selling fish to a consumer is required to state the species of salmon and whether the fish was farmed or wild caught.