Weekly Highlights - November 6, 2017
Read about this week's enforcement actions from around the country.
An enforcement officer investigated the unpermitted hazing of an ESA protected, bearded seal off the airport runway in Utqiagvik
(formerly Barrow), Alaska. The State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management sent personnel to move the seal. The investigation determined the seal was moved safely back to the ocean and the navigational hazard was cleared. Responding personnel were unaware of the authorization requirement. OLE initiated compliance assistance with the State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities in Utqiagvik (Barrow), and North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. No further actions
An enforcement officer investigated a vessel operator for retaining halibut from a statistical area partially in the Sitka Local Area Management Plan area. A review of the logbook determined no violations took place.
Two enforcement officers conducted an at-sea boarding with United States Customs and Border. The team inspected the
Panamanian flagged vessel’s cargo holds. No violations were found.
During a boarding, an enforcement officer identified a permit holder who did not have a State gear card upon landing. The officer forwarded the case to the Alaska Wildlife Troopers.
- An EO issued a New Jersey lobster fishing vessel a $500 summary settlement for failing to utilize weak links on lobster pot gear in accordance with Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan regulations. Written warnings and compliance assistance are also being issued for a variety of other lobster gear violations.
- An EO issued a $500 summary settlement to a commercial vessel owner in North Carolina for one count of not submitting fishing vessel trip report in a timely fashion. The same individual was also issued compliance assistance for multiple counts of failing to submit a timely FVTR from other vessels in his fleet. During the investigation, the owner came into compliance and provided all missing FVTR documentation.
- An EO assisted a Maine JEA officer with information regarding the restrictions placed on incidental herring permits and how they applied to a case the officer was investigating.
Pacific Islands Division
- An Enforcement Officer and a Supervisory Enforcement Officer conducted an MMPA patrol by land, focusing on Hawaiian
Spinner Dolphins at Makua Beach and Waianae on the Island of Oahu. During the patrol, the officers observed three snorkelers pursuing a pod of dolphins, causing the dolphins to display atypical aerial displays. i.e. breaching and direction change during a time when dolphins normally rest. The EO issued each snorkeler a $100 Summary Settlement.
- An Enforcement Officer in American Samoa conducted several PSMA boardings of Taiwanese flagged longline fishing vessels. The vessel logbooks, transshipment authorization paperwork and other documentation was examined. The vessels were conducting offloads into refrigerated containers to be shipped out of the territory. No violations were identified.
- An Enforcement Officer along with the Guam Customs Marine Interdiction Task Force unit (JEA partner) conducted patrols along Guam’s Beaches, Harbors and Marina’s throughout the Southern portion of the Island. The officers monitored recreational and charter vessel fishing activity in the Billy Bay, Merizo Pier and Hagat’na Bay area. No violations were observed.
- An Enforcement Officer and Supervisory Enforcement Officer conducted an MMPA/ESA patrol on the West and North Shores of the Island of Oahu. During this patrol, the officers responded to a report of a Hawaiian Monk Seal at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu. Upon arrival, officers located the seal, which was being monitored by a volunteer from Hawaii Marine Mammal Response (HMMR) team. The officers assisted the volunteer with educating the beachgoers in the area about regulations concerning Hawaiian Monk Seals. Later that evening, the officer located a lone Hawaiian Monk Seal at Camp Erdman near Kaena Point. After notifying HMMR, the officers assisted in identifying the seal by its tags. Additionally, the officers posted new signage at the Paradise Cove beach at Ko’olina, which has seen a rise in monk seal activity.
- A special agent issued a compliance assistance letter to a charter fishing fleet owner regarding MMPA harassment. Video and photos posted on social media showed vessels from the fleet closely approaching and pursuing a humpback whale approximately 15 miles east of Cape Canaveral. Subsequent analysis of the video by a NOAA Fisheries biologist indicated the humpback whale displayed changes in behavior due to the action of the vessels.
- A special agent completed a review of an investigation initiated by the U.S. Coast Guard concerning a commercial shrimp trawler using non-approved sea turtle excluder devices (TEDs) and Bycatch reduction devices (BRDs). The case package lacked jurisdictional evidence on the BRD violations and unsupported evidence on the TED violation. The case was closed due to lack of evidence.
- Enforcement officers patrolled several commercial offload locations in SC. Dealer permits and fish tickets were checked, no violations were observed.
- Two enforcement officers conducted TED patrols onboard FWC patrol vessels in Cape Canaveral and Jacksonville, FL. Several shrimp vessels were boarded offshore and one was found using a TED that had been partially sewn shut. Another enforcement officer conducted a patrol onboard a GA DNR vessel with no violations detected.
- An enforcement officer conducted a MMPA patrol at the Sand Destin Resort Marina after receiving several complaints about dolphin interaction. No feeding or harassment occurred during the patrol.
West Coast Division
- An investigation into the illegal sale of salmon protected by the Endangered Species Act concluded. The subject pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful fishing during a closed season before a magistrate in the Judicial District of Oregon and the sentence is 24 months of probation, 40 hours of community service, and $720 restitution payable to NOAA-Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement. The defendant was the subject of a joint investigation between OLE, the Oregon State Police, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- An enforcement officer and a special agent conducted an inspection of a Corporation, that specializes in dry sea cucumber, frozen sea cucumber, and dry-sliced sea cucumber. The business also imports and exports their products to foreign countries. The officer and special agent made contact with the plant manager and inspected packages in the freezer for proper labeling and areas where they process the product. No violations were found.
- An enforcement officer conducted a patrol of the San Diego G Street commercial boat docks. The officer conducted a boarding of a fishing vessel that had been fishing off the coast of Huntington Beach and was landing crab. The officer conducted an inspection of the landing receipt and inspected for any bycatch of prohibited fish species. No violations were noted.
- An enforcement officer conducted a patrol of the Oceanside Harbor boat basin. The officer observed approximately six individuals taking cell phone pictures with sea lions hauled-out on the docks. The officer approached the individuals and educated them on the dangers of being too close to the sea lions and the MMPA regulations. The individuals, tourists from the UK, were vacationing in California. No violations were noted.