Weekly Highlights - January 22, 2021
Read about this week's enforcement actions from around the country.
A Charleston, SC Enforcement Officer issued written warnings to a vessel owner and captain for failure to notify the observer officer at least 48 hours prior to departing on a trip. There were mitigating circumstances in the case, brought on by the death of the original vessel owner and probate delays in transferring ownership to the current owner.
A Cape Canaveral, FL Enforcement Officer and Jacksonville, FL Special Agent conducted a patrol with the Florida Wildlife Commission in the Economic Exclusion Zone east of Jacksonville, Florida. The team boarded five vessels. Officers will submit a case packet for dumping fish on the approach of a law enforcement vessel, possession of eight undersized seabass, and the use of j-hooks. A state warning was issued to another vessel in possession of four undersized sea bass.
A Special Agent completed an investigation into a fishing vessel in regards to a charter captain allowing two charter anglers to retain five charter halibut in 2019 when the annual limit was four charter halibut. The summary settlement of $800 was paid.
Six land patrols were completed (one Lacey Act, one Marine Mammal Protection Act, and four Magnuson Stevens Act.) No violations found.
Two Enforcement Officers, along with two U.S. Coast Guard boarding officers, conducted a dockside boarding of a recreational sailboat moored at Ma’alaea Harbor, Maui. The boarding stemmed from continued complaints regarding this vessel allegedly approaching humpback whales and towing its passengers behind the vessel and through pods of whales. The Coast Guard conducted a safety inspection, while the officers questioned the captain regarding the reported activities of his vessel. The captain was reminded of the regulations, specifically regarding putting swimmers in the water with humpback whales within 100 yards, who stated he understood. He was also given compliance materials for safe viewing of Humpback whales. Officers and the Coast Guard will continue to monitor this vessel closely for future violations.
Two Enforcement Officers conducted multiple sea patrols aboard patrol vessel F3503 within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS, in support of the division's annual Protected Species Detail. The officers were joined by two members from U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu boarding team. During the patrols, approximately 75 vessels, consisting of a mix of motor/sail/kayaks/paddleboards, as well as swimmers/snorkelers, were contacted. Educational outreach and compliance assistance were given to folks, reminding them of the federal regulations and viewing guidelines concerning humpback whales in Hawaiian waters.