December 9, 2016: The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council awarded its annual Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award to Special Agent Richard Chesler, of the OLE Southeast Division. The council created this award in 2010 as a way to recognize exemplary and dedicated work to protect marine resources. Chesler was recognized as having a tireless work ethic and willingness to take on additional leadership responsibilities, as well as being an outstanding liaison with partner agencies.
December 6, 2016: International Program Enforcement Tech Erica Nunez was selected as a NOAA Fisheries “Rising Star” by Assistant Administrator Eileen Sobeck and was one of about 20 individuals invited to a private conversation with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. For the event with Secretary Pritzker, each NOAA Assistant Administrator, of which there are six, was asked to select one employee from within their line office as a notable employee on the rise. During the event, the topics of conversation varied, but included professional development, advice for moving forward in an administrative transition, and sharing some lessons learned by the Commerce Secretary.
April 29, 2016: ASAC Everett Baxter, U.S. Coast Guard Master Chief Investigator (IVCM), was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) Director Michael Berkow and recognized for his nearly 18 years of service to CGIS. He was also assigned as the Reserve Command Master Chief at USCG Sector North Carolina.
April 15, 2016: Special Agents Ken Blackburn and John O’Malley and SEO Joe Scarpa, all of whom were present with the Outstanding Law Enforcement of the Year Awards by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. These awards were given in recognition of their investigative work that resulted in successful prosecutions of cases from the Florida Key in protection of the marine resources.
April 8, 2016: Enforcement Officer Justin Hanacek received the Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association’s Officer of The Year award at the Northeast Association of fish and Wildlife Agencies annual conference Monday in Annapolis, Md. Justin serves the Newport News office and has been an invaluable addition to the OLE team. Always willing to lend a hand and first to jump at new opportunities, this award was well deserved.
April 1, 2016: Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan announced the recipients of the 2016 Bronze Medal and Distinguished Career Awards. The award recipients will be honored at a ceremony this May at NOAA’s Silver Spring headquarters. Among these honorees was our SED SEO, Lt. Pat O’Shaughnessy. Pat earned this for his work in developing the first catch share program and real-time landings monitoring system for a recreational fishery in the Southeast Region.
February 26, 2016: Special Agent Anthony Forestiere received an award from the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman. During a ceremony in Newark, Attorney Fishman recognized Anthony’s skillful investigation of the U.S. versus D.C. Air & Seafood case; one which uncovered a scheme to harvest 79,666 pounds of Atlantic sea scallops in excess of the vessel trip limit and then create fraudulent reports to conceal that excess. During the ceremony, Attorney Fishman recognized the importance of investigating natural resource crimes. He highlighted the inherent obstacles in these cases such as the lack of living victims and cooperative witnesses; as well as the limited staffing and resources available to agencies like NOAA. He explained how through skill and dedication, Anthony overcame those obstacles to prove that Christopher Byers used his company, D.C. Air & Seafood, to traffic more than $500,000 of illegally harvested scallops. To read more about the case and the outcome, click here.
January 11, 2016: Special Agents Joe Wilson and Tracey Woodruff were recently recognized by the USCG Sector North Carolina Law Enforcement Chief. This recognition came following the Coast Guard Operation “Grouper Grabber,” in which the agents participated, providing guidance, intelligence and agency support.
July 27, 2015: Special Agents Todd Nickerson and Jeffrey Pollack, as well as Enforcement Officer Grant Demesillo were awarded the Department of Commerce Gold Medal for heroism. Nickerson was honored for his efforts to save the life of a badly injured driver, who was trapped in an overturned vehicle. Pollack and Demesillo were recognized for their rapid response to a mayday call, which resulted in the saving of nine crewmen adrift in heavy seas after their 95-foot tugboat sank miles offshore.
December 9, 2014: Special Agent Lynn Rios was recently selected to receive a Department Of Commerce Bronze Medal for his role in a U.S. Caribbean initiative involving Highly Migratory Species(HMS). Special Agent Rios will share the award with other HMS staff members for their unprecedented customer service in providing ecologically sustainable economic opportunity to tuna and swordfish fishermen in the U.S. Caribbean.
September 11, 2014: NOAA Special Agent, Matt Clark, assisted in the release of two Kemp’s ridley turtles after they spent time at NOAA’s sea turtle rehabilitation facility in Galveston, Texas. The turtles were treated at the facility after fishermen accidentally caught them and the animals swallowed fishing hooks.
August 20, 2014: Enforcement officer (EO) Joseph Snyder was presented with the NAWEOA 2014 Lifesaving award as he helped save the life a fisherman who fell overboard in Alsea Bay, Oregon. EO Snyder was the first person to notice a fisherman, in the water, hanging from the side of his vessel. Joe responded immediately by notifying the fire department and responding to the closest shoreline where he yelled to the man that help was coming. He then alerted a passing vessel that was unaware of the ongoing crisis and directed them to the victim. The passing vessel was able to locate the victim and pull him to safety. The victim said he was in the frigid water for 15-20 minutes and was going to give up except for EO Snyder imploring him to hang on.
May 13, 2014: Special Agent Sara Block, Newport News, Virginia field office and two Virginia Marine Police agents received this year's Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Annual Award of Excellence for Law Enforcement for spearheading an undercover operation targeting striped bass poaching within the EEZ off the Atlantic Coast.
April 15, 2014: Special Agent Todd Smith, Bellport, New York field office, received the North East Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association’s Officer of the Year award for his involvement on a multi-year criminal investigation involving the illegal catch of summer flounder under NOAA’s Research Set-Aside program.
April 1, 2014: NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service has partnered with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide support for its Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC). This partnership will help streamline and enhance the targeting efforts of NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement on commercial imports posing a threat to public health and safety. Click here to view the press release.
March 5, 2014: NOAA is seeking public comment on revisions to its Policy for the Assessment of Civil Administrative Penalties and Permit Sanctions. The draft revisions to the Penalty Policy are intended to provide updated guidance for the assessment of civil administrative penalties and permit sanctions under the statutes and regulations enforced by NOAA. The deadline to submit comments is April 28, 2014.
September 27, 2013 - Special Agent Ron Messa received an ‘Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award’ from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida for his work in a criminal investigation that uncovered more than 1,850,000 pounds of Asian shrimp, with a retail value exceeding $12,000,000, that was imported into the U.S. and relabeled to more marketable countries through a conspiracy involving four companies and their respective owners.
September 9, 2013 - The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued an emergency rule on September 4, 2013, requiring California's thresher shark and swordfish drift gillnet fishery to shut down if a single endangered sperm whale is seriously injured or dies from entanglement. In order to monitor the fishery during the emergency time period, the rule stipulates that all drift gillnet fishing vessels carry a NMFS-trained observer onboard to monitor bycatch, submit a pre-trip notification, and install vessel monitoring devices. The rule is effective September 4, 2013 through January 31, 2014.
July 9, 2013 - NOAA Fisheries announced the publication of a final rule on enhanced document requirements to support use of the dolphin-safe label on tuna products. Please see visit the Tuna Tracking & Verification Program for more information. The effective date of the rule is July 13, 2013.
January 24, 2013 - Public comments on the Draft Division Enforcement Priorities for 2013 are due March 18, 2013. NOAA has committed to establishing its national enforcement priorities every two years and its division (regional) enforcement priorities each year to meet our mission and guide our planning. Setting division priorities supports sustainable fisheries and protected resources by helping us focus our resources and strategically use our state and federal partnerships to provide the most benefit for marine resources and the American people.
January 23, 2013 - NOAA special agents Troy Audyatis and Christopher McCarron of Office of Law Enforcement’s Northeast Division received recognition in January from Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno for a multi-year investigation into illegal importing and trafficking of narwhal tusks and sperm whale teeth. The Department of Justice certificates of commendation note Audyatis’s and McCarron’s “outstanding performance and invaluable assistance” in support of DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
The successful prosecution of David Place, Andrei Mikhalyov and Charles Manghis resulted in the defendants being sentenced to a collective total of 43 months incarceration, a $50,000 fine and the forfeiture of a number of ivory carvings.
Sperm whales and narwhals are protected under the Endangered Species Act. These successful prosecutions sent a deterrent message that wildlife smuggling is a serious crime.
December 12, 2012 - The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has presented its highest honor—the Bob Mace Distinguished Service Award—to Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Hansen of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement’s Alaska Division.
November 16, 2012 - NOAA Enforcement Officer Bob Yerena received the NOAA Administrator’s Award for building exemplary agency partnerships and public support for effective enforcement and protection of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.