Weekly Highlights - December 26, 2017
Read about this week's enforcement actions from around the country.
- An enforcement officer received notification from the Alaska Wildlife Troopers that a case involving the unlawful leasing of a charter halibut permits was accepted by the State’s Office of Special Prosecutions. This case is significant because it exposed a significant gap in Federal regulations governing the leasing and usage of charter halibut permits.
- An enforcement officer issued a $500 summary settlement to a saltwater sports fish guide who failed to provide required information for an angler and failed to ensure six anglers sign the logbook.
- A special agent provided compliance assistance to a vessel captain about the VMS not transmitting. The captain was directed to get the unit fixed before starting the next trip.
- An enforcement officer in training and a special agent investigated a vessel operator for failing to log a fishing trip into the Observer deployment system. A check of VMS indicated an incorrect statistical area was entered on the landing report and the trip did not require observer coverage. The officer in training provided compliance assistance for the reporting error.
- An enforcement officer issued a $500 summary settlement to a commercial vessel owner in North Carolina for not submitting his fishing vessel trip reports (FVTRs) on time and failing to report nine bluefin tuna during 2017.
- An enforcement officer provided compliance assistance to a Maryland commercial vessel operator for failing to carry an observer after an investigation showed a discrepancy in whether the observer was at the vessel when it departed to fish.
- An enforcement officer provided compliance assistance to a New Jersey commercial vessel operator for possessing five black sea bass without a permit and for possessing one undersized black sea bass.
Pacific Islands Division
- An enforcement officer issued a $1,000 Summary Settlement Notice to a Hawaii longline limited access permit holder and the longline fishing vessel operator. The vessel operator failed to notify a NOAA fisheries observer in a timely fashion when commercial fishing operations were ending.
- An enforcement officer alongside the Guam Customs Maritime Interdiction Task Force unit conducted a Port State Measure Agreement investigation of a foreign long line-fishing vessel. The officers checked the fishing gear, the sea turtle mitigation gear, the logbooks and the permits. No violations were noted.
- An enforcement officer conducted a joint ESA sea patrol with JEA partners from Saipan’s, Department of Land and Natural Resource Division. The officers reconnoitered the western coastal waters of Saipan and Isleta Managaha Island and also monitored the tourist charter vessels. Four green sea turtles were located. No violations were noted.
- A special agent issued a $750 summary settlement for possession of out of season red snapper.
- A special agent reported the USCG interdicted an Illegal Unreported Unregulated Mexican
vessel spotted fishing by the Coast Guard Cutter MANATEE in the US EEZ 18 miles north of the international boundary line and 23 miles offshore. Mexican vessel was interdicted with four persons, fishing gear, bait, GPS navigation equipment, and radio on board. NOAA OLE and GCES gave concurrence with a Statement of No Objection by the USCG to seize vessel and turn over crew members to Customs and Border Protection for repatriation to Mexico.
- An enforcement officer was on an offshore patrol when USCG Sector Jacksonville, FL, requested assistance for an 18-foot vessel in distress over VHF channel 16. The vessels EPIRB was activated, and USCG was unable to contact vessel. The officer and Florida's FWC were able to locate the vessel approximately 26 nautical miles east of Jacksonville Beach. After a short investigation it was determined there was no emergency and the EPIRB activation was accidental. The officer and FWC remained on scene until the USCG Cutter arrived to conduct a post-SAR boarding/investigation, as the vessel has had multiple false activations in the past. After the SAR several other vessels were boarded with compliance assistance given to a commercial snapper-grouper fishing vessel for turtle mitigation gear issues.
West Coast Division
- A San Diego-based seafood company and its owner received a sentence of five years’ probation and an order to pay a $15,000 fine, $100 penalty assessment, and forfeit $500,000 to the U.S. government. Between February 2012 and July of 2015, the company illegally imported 148,500 pounds of Mexican harvested abalone to the U.S. using false Mexican invoices. The value of the product imported is approximately $3 million.
- A WCD investigation involving a merchant vessel that unlawfully discharged 12 shipping containers into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, due to the crew’s failure to properly secure their cargo before departing the Port of Oakland, resulted in the parent company receiving a $9,000 NOVA from NOAA GCES.
- A special agent initiated an investigation after a fishing guide contacted him about six cans of sea lion curry from a Japanese company he had ordered as a joke gift for friends. The fishing guide stated he did not know if the product was legal, and chose to abandon it after learning it was illegal. The special agent issued a verbal warning.