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Capacity Building

Capacity building can encompass a wide variety of specific activities which are focused on rendering constructive and enduring aid to other nations.

Capacity building is traditionally defined as training, skills development, and/or information sharing, with partnering institutions, organizations, and agencies working toward a collective goal. The recipients of this unique form of assistance are provided with, or are supported in the development of, skills and tools which will enable them to identify their own development options, make informed choices, and implement effective solutions. Capacity building conducted by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement focuses on assisting parties interested in strengthening their enforcement efforts related to protecting and conserving marine wildlife and habitat.

OLE conducts numerous capacity building activities each year. Some are in the form of training or technical assistance workshops, while others are meetings with international governments to discuss topics related to fisheries law enforcement. Below are a few examples of our work.

Technical Assistance 


OLE participated in a regional law enforcement and prosecution workshop in Accra, Ghana. The workshop included participants from seven West African countries and the enforcement portion focused on investigative techniques necessary to inspect and investigate vessels suspected of IUU fishing.


OLE held two workshops in Honduras that focused on the traceability of spiny lobsters. The workshops were attended by representatives from the local processing plants, local fishermen and Honduran fisheries officials.


OLE held training on the identification, regulation, and management efforts for sea cucumbers. The training also focused on the Lacey Act and inter-agency sharing of intelligence to combat the illegal harvest of sea cucumbers and other sea food sources.

Formal Meetings

U.S. – EU IUU Working Group

Members of OLE’s International Program along with personnel from various other NOAA offices met with delegates of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. The purpose of this annual meeting was to discuss issues of mutual interest between both law enforcement offices in regards to the fight against IUU fishing. The group reviewed their activities and initiatives within Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs), discussed areas of collaboration in regard to combating IUU fishing and arranged for an operational law enforcement meeting at the European Fisheries Control Agency headquarters in Vigo, Spain.

U.S. – Mexico Fisheries Law Enforcement Cooperation

During the Meeting of the Fisheries Authorities of Mexico and the United States in Campeche, Mexico last month  a representative of OLE met with members of CONAPESCA and other enforcement agencies involved in combating IUU fishing and wildlife trafficking.  This meeting focused on discussing areas of potential improvement and collaboration in the arena of information sharing, priority species in regards to IUU fishing, and EEZ incursions.

U.S. – EU Seminar on Fisheries Control

In 2015, Members of OLE International Program met with law enforcement officials and inspectors of the European Fisheries Control Agency at their headquarters in Vigo, Spain, to discuss the operational aspects of fisheries law enforcement in both regions, exchange information and best practices, and identify areas of fisheries enforcement  collaboration in efforts to combat IUU fishing.

Intergovernmental Consultative Committee (ICC) meeting

In September 2015, Russian and U.S. negotiators signed a bilateral agreement to combat IUU fishing. The agreement aims to improve coordination among the multiple government agencies in both countries that need to work together to address IUU fishing and the trade in IUU fish products.

Informal Meetings

April 2015 – OLE hosted a meeting with environmental prosecutors from Thailand who were interested in learning how the United States responds to marine wildlife trafficking, including both the investigative and prosecutorial aspects.

July 2015 – Representatives from Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) met with members of OLE at NOAA headquarters for the first time to discuss possible collaboration between the parties on MCS issues and combating IUU fishing. The discussions included overviews of OLE and MOF operations, each organization’s VMS programs, and possible collaboration in technical assistance specific to enforcement efforts to combat IUU fishing.