On a weekly basis, we'll post highlights of our enforcement actions below and examples of high-interest violation notices. This does not include all weekly actions taken by our Officer or Special Agents.
Weekly Highlights — February 27, 2017
- An enforcement officer issued a $1,000 summary settlement to a fisherman for inaccurately reporting information while concurrently participating in the IFQ halibut and State of Alaska sablefish fishery. Additionally, as a result of a USCG case package forwarded to OLE, the fisherman was issued a written warning for failing to monitor channel 16.
- An enforcement technician processed 15 summary settlement cases for pollock trip limits totaling more than $8,600 dollars.
- An enforcement officer conducted at-sea and dockside boarding’s of eight commercial fishing vessels while on patrol aboard the State of Alaska Patrol Vessel Stimpson. The Alaska Wildlife Troopers issued two citations, and the NOAA enforcement officer provided compliance assistance for one vessel. In addition, pot fishing gear from a vessel was pulled and inspected. Four pots were found with improper or no halibut excluders. The vessel operator was issued a $1,500 summary settlement.
- An enforcement officer and Alaska Wildlife Trooper boarded a vessel and identified two recordkeeping and reporting violations. The vessel operator was issued written warnings for failing to submit logbook sheets as required and for not recording set information within two hours of gear retrieval.
- An EO is investigating the source of inaccurate lobster gauges. The gauges are smaller than 3-1/4" resulting in undersized lobster appearing on numerous federal boats using those gauges.
- An EO provided compliance assistance with respect to complying with the requirement for participation in the State Waters Exemption Program (NGOM closure).
- With support from the GARFO Stakeholder Engagement Division, the VMS Team has begun to reach out to NMFS port agents for assistance in contacting owners/operators of vessels that have stopped reporting. As of February 21, 47 vessels were
Pacific Islands Division:
- A Special Agent returned to Guam after spending two weeks on board USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) conducting a joint South Pacific patrol in support of an Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) operation alongside a USCG boarding team and a Nauru Fishery Officer. During this patrol, the NOAA Special Agent conducted joint boarding’s within the Nauru EEZ on nine targeted purse seine fishing vessels. The subject vessels boarded consisted of eight FFVs and one U.S. flagged FV. No violations were detected during this OMSI operation.
- Special Agents and an Enforcement Officer participated in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection-led multi-agency seaport Regional Coordinating Mechanism (ReCom), “Operation Safe Harbor” in Honolulu, Hawaii. Participating agencies consisted of CBP, HSI, USCG, NOAA-OLE, NCIS, Department of Public Safety, and Hawaii State Harbor Police. Enforcement boarding’s were conducted of U.S. Commercial Longline fishing vessels docked in Honolulu, Harbor in order to identify and investigate possible immigration violations as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety Act, U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service laws/regulations, and other Federal, State and local laws. A total of 33 longline vessels were boarded and eight enforcement actions issued including two Honduran foreign nationals who entered the United States without inspection were detained. Both were turned over to HSI who arrested and transported the two to the Federal Detention Center pending removal proceedings. No fishing violations were observed..
- USCG interdicted two Mexican lancha vessels in the EEZ off South Texas. NOAA OLE and GCES gave concurrence with a Statement of No Objection by the USCG to detain the vessel and turn over crew members to Customs and Border Protection for repatriation to Mexico.
- A special agent initiated an investigation into a charter boat that has been catching and landing HMS species without an HMS Charter boat permit and failing to report the landings.
- Four enforcement officers conducted an at sea MMPA patrol in Lower Tampa Bay, FL. Several pods of dolphins were spotted and the team surveilled dolphin tour boats to ensure they were in compliance with MMPA viewing guidelines.
- A special agent gave a presentation at a dive store monthly meeting about NOAA OLE, its mission, and local fishery issues to include red snapper and sea turtles. Multiple questions were answered regarding spearfishing regulations in federal waters and red snapper regulations.
- A special agent participated in a Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting. The agent provided guidance on the enforceability of proposed boundary lines for proposed boundary expansion areas.
West Coast Division:
- A fourth defendant pleaded guilty to smuggling in San Diego federal court for his role in a totoaba swim bladder smuggling operation which took place in October 2014. The individual arranged for drivers on two separate trips to transport 12 protected totoaba swim bladders from Mexico to Los Angeles and took possession of the load vehicle after the second trip from Mexico. The individual had multiple burner cell phones during the smuggling operation, which were eventually tracked through an interview of an acquaintance who provided an old cell phone number which was registered under his name. The acquaintance has offered to cooperate with the investigation for possible additional suspects.
- A Supervisory Enforcement Officer conducted a combined groundfish and marine mammal patrol in Warrenton and Astoria, Oregon. A report of a dead California sea lion in Astoria was investigated, and photographs and assessment of condition and removal options were provided to the Stranding Network. No violations were noted.