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Compliance Assistance, Outreach Proving to Build Positive Rapport With Fishermen

Face-to-face interactions are some of the most effective ways that NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement can meet its mission. Enforcement Officers and Special Agents regularly engage with fishing communities and industry leaders to ensure that fishermen are aware of any important regulatory changes, and to listen to any concerns that fishermen may have. With that in mind, OLE officers have been trying to increase the number of fishing tournaments ‘captains meetings’ they attend.

Before a tournament begins, the captains of each participating vessel gather for a meeting to discuss rules, limitations, and other topics of interest. Attending these events provides an opportunity for OLE to interact directly with a large group of captains.

“It’s important that we’re getting out there to work with fishermen to maintain sustainable resources, especially the highly migratory species that are high value fish,” said Enforcement Officer Justin Hanacek.

Enforcement Officer John Ford explained that he and many of his colleagues reach out to event coordinators when they learn about new fishing tournaments.

“It’s a priority for us. It provides an open forum for the fishing community to ask questions and obtain information related to federal fishery regulations in an informal environment,” said Ford. Adding that, “During meetings, the fishing community is more receptive to our presence and appreciates us coming out in an outreach capacity to provide information and answer questions.”  

This year, across the country, OLE attended 11 captains meetings. While being available to speak at these meetings has proved to be essential to the compliance assistance mission, attendance has also generated a friendlier rapport among fishing communities.