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Regional Priorities

While we update our national priorities on biennial basis, we update our regional priorities annually: 2013 Division Enforcement Priorities.

Regional priorities allow NOAA to focus on area-specific resources, activities, and threats. Setting regional priorities helps us focus our enforcement work as effectively and efficiently as possible. This is important because fish stocks, fishing gear, and management programs are not identical across the country and enforcement programs must tailor their priorities appropriately.

For example, endangered salmon are a priority in the Northwest and Southwest, whereas other enforcement divisions are more concerned with other species, such as sear turtles in the Southeast and monk seals in the Pacific Islands.

In addition, our special agents, enforcement officers and support staff cannot do everything or be everywhere at once and these priorities also help strategically use our state and federal partnerships to provide the most benefit for marine resources and the American people.

Our regional priorities work to support each national priority and are updated on an annual basis. The tables below illustrate examples of regional priorities as they relate to our national priorities.

Supporting Sustainable Fisheries and Safe Seafood

Overall PriorityNortheastSoutheastNorthwestSouthwestAlaskaPacific Islands
Focus resources on overfished stocks and stocks experiencing overfishing.Limited access, overfished, prohibited and protected species including Bluefin tuna.Dealer non-reporting on overfished species.Cases involving adverse impacts on overfished stocks.Noncompliance with trip and cumulative limits, especially catch share programs.There are no overfished stocks in Alaska that are managed by NOAA.Tampering/ obstruction of VMS equipment, data; closes area/VMS violations.
Expand contact with the regulated communities.Maintain and foster relationships with industry.Fishery closures: closes areas and closed seasons, highly migratory species.Patrols at sea and shoreside.Pacific highly migratory species fishery.Commercialization of sport-caught or subsistence halibut.Violations of international treaties or agreements.
Focus enforcement services to support commercial and recreational catch reporting in support of annual catch limit monitoring.Noncompliance with trip and cumulative limits, especially catch share programs multi-species or other fisheries.Red Snapper/ Grouper/Tilefish Catch Shares-IFQ monitor and enforcement.Noncompliance with trip and cumulative limits, especially catch.Catch reporting and trip limits.Felony and major civil cases involving significant damage to the resource or the integrity of management schemes.Felony and major civil cases involving significant damage to the resource or integrity of management schemes.

Supporting Recovered and Healthy Marine and Coastal Species and Healthy Habitats

Overall PriorityNortheastSoutheastNorthwestSouthwestAlaskaPacific Islands
Improve compliance with regulations to protect endangered species.Violations involving the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).Turtle excluder device (TED) education and enforcement.Inadequate water volume and/or barriers to fish passage in streams that impact migration or spawning.Habitat protection and inadequate water flow and/or barriers to fish passage in streams that impact migration or spawning.Lethal takes and Level “A harassment with the potential to injure marine mammals.Plans for Hawaiian Monk Seal habitat protection.
Expand enforcement services provided to support National Marine Sanctuaries.Fixed gear violations (e.g., lobster traps, gillnets) within sanctuaries.Prohibitive taking of commercial quantities of sanctuary artifacts or protected marine resources.Unlawful discharges or groundings of vessels within sanctuaries.Unlawful discharges or groundings of vessels within sanctuaries.There are no National Marine Sanctuaries in Alaska.Unlawful discharges or groundings of vessels within sanctuaries.
Reduce illegal vessel/ person/marine mammal interactions.Review and analysis of Automatic Identification System (AIS) data for enforcement of right whale ship strike reduction speed rule.Right Whale approach and vessel speed restriction enforcement in South Atlantic waters.Lethal, intentional and/or egregious take of any marine mammal.Lethal takes, Level A harassment with the potential to injure marine mammals.Any violation involving injury or potential injury to marine mammals, such as a vessel-whale collision..An observed or reported ongoing/in-progress take as well as any vessel strike.