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What You Need To Know

Compliance is essential to maintaining and restoring health of living marine resources and fisheries and effective enforcement is critical to rebuilding and sustaining fishing. Those who obey the rules reap the benefits of fair competition and an even playing field. When the laws are followed, everybody wins: the fish, the fishers and future generations.

We want to help you abide by the laws and regulations enacted to conserve and protect our nation's marine resources. Through compliance assistance, we hope to improve our enforcement program and to strengthen efforts to improve communication with and outreach to the fishing industry.

Marine Mammal Protection


NOAA Enforcement Officer Robert Marvelle (in blue) and an Alaska state wildlife trooper talk to folks at the Juneau Sport and Recreation Show. Compliance assistance and outreach is a priority that cuts across all six Enforcement divisions.

Viewing Distances - For your safety and the protection of marine wildlife, you should admire marine mammals from a distance. In general, NOAA Fisheries recommends you stay at least 100 yards away from marine mammals.

There are some marine mammal species that have minimum viewing distances required by federal regulations, they are:

Swimming and Feeding Marine Mammals - The Marine Mammal Protection Act protects wild dolphins from harassment. Feeding, touching, and pursuing dolphins are considered harassment and are subject to enforcement actions. There is scientific evidence that increased human interaction with wild dolphins reduces their fear of humans, resulting in injuries to the animals from boat strikes, increased numbers of bites to people from animals, and increased interactions such as taking of bait and catch from anglers and commercial fishermen. Illegal feeding has shown to increase depredation, reduce body weight, increase calf mortality, and increase the animal’s dependence on man.

Permitting and Quotas

Individual Fishing Quota is a catch-share program designed to increase sustainability of a regulated species. This program assigns a “share” of a gross annual catch limit for commercial fishermen; this share is a percentage of the total allowable catch for that species in a given year. IFQ programs are designed with the intent to level the market, increase price/value consistency, decrease “derby style fishing,” and stabilize the fishery.