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Fishery Council Honors “Legendary” NOAA Special Agent with Highest Service Award

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement Alaska Division Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Hansen has been honored with the Bob Mace Distinguished Service Award. Hansen has been with the Alaska Division of NOAA law enforcement for 25 years.


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.

Council Executive Director Chris Oliver and Council Chairman Eric Olson made the presentation at the opening of the December Council meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.

“Ken’s rapport with the fishing industry is legendary,” said Oliver. “His long-time and close involvement with the Council process is not actually part of his specific job duties, but it has been an area of keen interest to him and of tremendous benefit to us.”

The award is named for Bob Mace, who represented Oregon on the Council for 23 years.

“Bob was sort of the Council’s moral compass,” said Oliver. “The Council rarely bestows this award, and the vote was unanimous that Ken embodies what the Bob Mace award symbolizes.”

Described as “not your ordinary law enforcement officer,” Hansen first moved from Oregon to Kodiak, Alaska, in 1987 and has been with the Alaska Division of NOAA enforcement for 25 years. In a region where the work of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is highly valued, the fishing industry will sorely miss Hansen’s presence when he retires at the end of the month.

“Ken always enters every discussion looking for a solution that can work for everybody,” said Glen Reed, president at Pacific Seafood Processors Association. “He is not looking to punish, he is looking to solve, and I think we are all going to miss that a lot.”

Special Agent in Charge Sherrie Tinsley Myers agreed that Hansen created a new standard by which federal fisheries stakeholders and managers can come together to identify and resolve issues that can become enforcement problems. 

“With an eye toward enforceability and the practical life of a fisherman, Hansen bridged the gap by understanding both sides of the story, and encouraging solutions that would meet everyone’s true need for the sustainability of fisheries,” she said. 

“A lot of the work that Ken does here at the Council is extra work and extra time that he has chosen to take on himself,” said Roy Hyder, Oregon representative on the Council. “He represents the type of career dedication that the Bob Mace award was originally designed to recognize. He is professional in the performance of his duties, he is dedicated to the resource, and he is not only truly concerned about working with the participant in the fishery to ensure compliance to the greatest possible degree while protecting the resource, he is personally dedicated to going above and beyond to reach out to the fleet to develop problem-solving kinds of solutions that enable the fleet to better understand the regulations and to develop fishing practices that result in compliance.”

Because of Hansen’s stellar work, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement’s Alaska Division identified in its 2012 staffing plan the need for a new Council liaison position dedicated to this work.

The Council also recognized two other long-time NOAA Fisheries Alaska region employees who are retiring. Tinsley Myers is retiring after more than 27 years in federal law enforcement. Jesse Gharrett, head of Alaska Region’s Restricted Access Management division, is also leaving at the end of the year.

NOAA’s officers and agents are responsible for enforcing more than 35 federal statutes over more than 3 million square miles of open ocean and 85,000 miles of U.S. coastline. Learn more about the work of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement.