What We Do
U.S. marine resource laws exist to ensure sustainable fish populations, protect threatened marine species and the habitats they live in and to ensure these resources are around for future generations to enjoy. When people cheat and willfully violate fishery management regulations it puts those who comply with the rules at a significant disadvantage. When people harass or harm protected marine species, such as whales, dolphins or sea turtles, it threatens the survivability and, ultimately, the future of the species.
The mission of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is to not let that happen.
OLE is dedicated to enforcing laws that conserve and protect our nation’s marine resources and their natural habitat. We ensure a level playing field for honest fishermen, defend U.S. economic and public health interest from illegal international and domestic fishing activities, and protect vulnerable marine species in order to ensure these global resources do not disappear.
Learn more about enforcement
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement protects marine wildlife and habitat by enforcing domestic laws and supporting international treaty requirements designed to ensure global resources are available for future generations. OLE special agents, enforcement officers, as well as investigative and mission support staff provide stakeholders with compliance assistance and education about the nation’s marine resource laws.
OLE directly supports the core mission mandates of NOAA Fisheries— maximizing productivity of sustainable fisheries and fishing communities, as well as protection, recovery, and conservation of protected species—through its efforts to enforce and promote compliance with the marine resource protection laws and implementing regulations under NOAA’s purview.
OLE jurisdiction generally covers ocean waters between 3 and 200 miles offshore and adjacent to all U.S. states and territories; this is called the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The OLE jurisdiction includes:
- 3.36 million square miles of open ocean.
- More than 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline.
- 14 National Marine Sanctuaries and five Marine National Monuments.
OLE conducts enforcement activities through patrols both on and off the water as well as monitoring vessels electronically; criminal and civil investigations; partnerships with state, tribal, federal, and nongovernmental organizations; outreach and compliance assistance; and the use of innovative technological tools.
Jim has been the Director of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement since 2015. Prior to joining OLE, he was the Chief of the Enforcement Section in NOAA’s Office of General Counsel. Before coming to NOAA, Jim spent 15 years at the FBI as a Deputy General Counsel and an Associate General Counsel in charge of the FBI’s Investigative Law Unit. Jim has a J.D. and an M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University, a B.S. in Political Science from the U.S. Naval Academy, and a B.S. in Oceanography from the University of West Florida.
Everett is the acting Deputy Director of NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement, while also serving as the Assistant Director for OLE's Investigative Operations Division. He previously spent more than 13 years on active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard, eventually retiring from the Coast Guard Reserve with just over 30 years of service. He served aboard patrol boats, as a Special Agent with the Coast Guard Investigative Service, and as an instructor at the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy. He has a B.A. in Criminology from Saint Leo University.