Weekly Highlights - June 4, 2018

Read about this week's enforcement actions from around the country.

Alaska Division

  • An Enforcement Officer coordinated travel arrangements to conduct outreach and education meetings in six Northwestern rural Alaska communities (Mekoryuk, Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue, Point Hope, and Barrow). 
  • An Enforcement Officer investigated a sport fishing vessel operator for removing the skin from a halibut fillet at-sea. Compliance Assistance was provided after it was determent that only one halibut had been retained.
  • An Enforcement Officer investigated the operator of a sport fishing vessel for filleting and chunking halibut at-sea, a violation of the regulations. Compliance Assistance was provided after the chunks were placed back together and the harvested amount was determined.

Northeast Division

  • The investigative support team fielded numerous calls from industry on May 31 as a result of the lengthy data outage from vessels equipped with McMurdo VMS units.
  • An Enforcement Officer conducted a patrol focused on seal pupping season outreach. Outreach materials were provided to local beaches and facilities.
  • An Enforcement Officer issued four New Jersey recreational anglers each a $500 summary settlement for possessing Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ.

Pacific Islands Division

  • An Enforcement Officer attended a National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council meeting in Pago Pago, American Samoa. Current issues within American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary were discussed as well as the progress of repairs being made to the stairway leading down to Fagatele Bay, a unit of the sanctuary.
  • An Enforcement Officer Enforcement Officer conducted a boarding of a Taiwanese flagged longline-fishing vessel in Pago Pago, American Samoa. Fishing logs, RFMO authorization paperwork, transshipment documents, and compliance with CMM’s were reviewed/investigated. No violations were found.

Southeast Division

  • An Enforcement Officer reviewed a case package from USCG in which a commercial shrimp vessel found without a valid federal permit onboard. The EO determined that the permit was valid but not aboard and provided compliance assistance.
  • An Enforcement Officer conducted a patrol of multiple marinas in Freeport, TX. The Officer conducted three dockside vessel boardings finding violations on two of the vessels; issued a $1,500 summary settlement to the captain of a federally permitted charter vessel for failing to possess all of the required sea turtle mitigation gear - a violation that was previously addressed with compliance assistance. The Officer also issued a $550 summary settlement to the captain of a recreational vessel who was in possession of and admitted to catching a red snapper in federal waters during the closed season.
  • A Special Agent attended a strategy meeting with several federal partnering agencies. The meeting was held to discuss potential strategies for gaining compliance from Mexican Lancha vessels fishing in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ.

West Coast Division

  • In support of the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), the Division conducted an inspection operation in the Los Angeles area, focusing on SIMP targeted species imported through the LAX airport and Port of LA. The objective of this operation was to ensure that seafood importers were adhering to the new SIMP regulations requiring they possess a valid IFTP permit, submit complete and accurate information from the point of harvest to point of entry into U.S. Commerce and to make all required records available for inspection at the place of business. The WCD teams visited 21 seafood import businesses and inspected a total of 70 SIMP shipments (the companies had multiple shipments within the target dates).  Tuna was the predominate species with a few snapper and sea cucumber shipments.  One sea cucumber shipment was found to be out of SIMP compliance by not having the required harvest to landing traceable documents, while all other shipments were in compliance. 

  • An Enforcement Officer and Special Agent conducted compliance patrols within the San Juan Islands of Washington State for the protection of ESA listed Southern Resident Killer Whales over the Memorial Day weekend.  The patrols focused on maintaining vessel distances of 200 yards surrounding and 400 yards in the path of all killer whales in Washington State waters. No violations observed. 

  • The Division, USCG, and Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife conducted a joint operation focused on offshore commercial salmon fishing activities.  An officer from OLE conducted boardings of fishing vessels from a US Coast Guard Cutter.  Another officer from OLE joined a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew in order to locate and direct the cutter and OSP patrol vessels to areas of concentrated fishing effort. Four commercial vessels were boarded before sea conditions changed making further boardings unsafe. No violations were noted on the vessels boarded