Weekly Highlights - September 17, 2018
Read about this week's enforcement actions from around the country.
- An Enforcement Officer issued a $750 summary settlement to an IFQ fisherman for submitting inaccurate information on an IFQ landing report.
- An Enforcement Officer issued a $2,000 summary settlement to a plant manager for submitting an IFQ landing report more than 18 hours late.
- An Enforcement Officer issued a $1,500 summary settlement to a vessel operator for failure to file a Prior Notice of Landing (PNOL) and a written warning for submitting inaccurate information in a PNOL.
- A Special Agent conducted a marine mammal patrol. One subject was issued a summary settlement for feeding sea lions and another was issued a written warning for delaying an investigation.
- While on patrol in Cordova, Alaska, enforcement officers learned the main fish cleaning/processing station was shut down due to bear activity. The cleaning stations in the harbor are now attracting seals, otters, and bears. The officers have been in contact with the City of Cordova, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, and U.S. Forest Service discussing possible solutions to this issue.
- An Enforcement Officer investigated four hotline calls regarding dead seals on Massachusetts and Maine beaches. The Officer informed complainants of seal handling protocols and reported the strandings to the marine mammal stranding network. No further investigation required.
- An Enforcement Officer conducted a dockside boarding in coordination with New York JEA officers. The vessel boarded was operating without a valid USCG Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Exam documentation. The Officer issued a $500 summary settlement to the operator.
- A Special Agent and Assitant Special Agent in Charge attended the sentencing for John “Jake” Bell in the District of Massachusetts. Bell was sentenced to three months in federal prison, seven months of home confinement, and 12 months of probation after pleading guilty to a single count of Lacey Act Wildlife Trafficking. From 2004 through 2007, Bell smuggled sperm whale teeth from Ukraine to various customers in the United States for commercial sale. Bell previously spent 38 days in a Russian prison prior to being reported back to the United States to face his pending charges.
Pacific Islands Division
- Enforcement Officer and Supervisory Enforcement Officer conducted joint land-based MMPA patrols on Molokai throughout the week with State of Hawaii conservation officer (JEA) partners. At the conclusion of the patrols, the USCG assisted in returning the NOAA/OLE marked F-150 truck and officers back to Oahu.
- An Enforcement Officer in American Samoa conducted a dockside patrol at the Samoa Tuna Processors loading docks. Several local American Samoa longline fishing vessels were boarded. Fishing logs, permit authorizations, and gear were all examined. No violations were detected.
- An Enforcement Officer participated in a five-day patrol around the Main Hawaiian Islands. Three recreational fishing vessels were checked for safety violations and potential fisheries violations. No violations were found during the boardings. No commercial fishing vessels were found during the patrol. The Officer also conducted land patrols for two days, alongside DLNR DOCARE Officers. An ESA land patrol was done at Poipu and Salty Ponds Beach Park. No ESA Green Sea Turtles or Hawaiian Monk Seals were found being harassed during the patrol.
- A Special Agent traveled to the Dominican Republic with HQ International Affairs and members of the Food Organization and Agriculture for a weeklong workshop for Port-State Measures. The workshop was attended by several government entities from the nation.
- An Enforcement Officer issued a summary settlement regarding a charter vessel conducting a charter fishing trip in the EEZ with a CMP permit that was expired for more than 10 months. A written warning was also issued for possession of an undersized king mackerel that was mistaken for a Spanish mackerel. A Trident prior’s check indicated that the vessel had conducted a charter trip in 2013 without a CMP permit that was closed due to lack of resources, however, the vessel was issued a state citation under the same investigation.
- Two Enforcement Officers conducted a three-day patrol to the Dry Tortugas in the FKNMS with FWC. The officers boarded multiple recreational and commercial vessels throughout the three days with violations including; Undersized Grouper, using reef fish for bait, fishing in the North and South Ecological Reserves, undersized yellowtail snapper, undersized lane snapper and possession of 12-wrung spiny lobster tails. The officers issued six federal citations and one state misdemeanor citation.
West Coast Division
- Four enforcement officers met with the staff of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to share operational capabilities and to gain information on the Electronic Monitoring Program.
- OLE participated in an international, multi-agency border emphasis to detect possible IUU seafood crossing the US/Canada border in Blaine, Washington. An Enforcement Officer and two Special Agents participated from OLE. CBP provided full access to the team at the H Street crossing commercial port of entry, and CBP officers referred all shipments containing seafood for inspections. FDA detailed an officer to assist the team. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) assisted telephonically with questions about a northbound shipment of live prawns. Fisheries and Oceans Canada completed a similar mission on the Canadian side of the border and was accompanied by Environment Canada. Four Canadian fisheries officers visited the U.S. side to share intelligence related to the operation. Two southbound trucks were inspected by the U.S. team. Canadian, US, and Philippine seafood products were inspected. No violations were noted but an invoice contained a line item for Atlantic cod, which may be an error that has occurred with other shipments. The exporter will be contacted through outreach.
- An Enforcement Officer attended a meeting with NOAA Protected Resources, USCG, and several NGO's regarding future plans to intervene and provide care to a SRKW identified as “J50." J50 has become malnourished and is believed to be in the final stages of its life. The goal of the meeting was to gather input from veterinarians and rescue coordinators to establish a course of action in the event NOAA biologists can intervene and administer treatment to J50.