Weekly Highlights—September 25, 2017
Read about this week's enforcement actions from around the country.
- A special agent mailed a written warning to a vessel captain for not having an IFQ hired master permit, failure to make an IFQ prior notice of landing, and failure to report an IFQ landing within 6 hours.
- A special agent and a general counsel attorney met with a representative from a fishing company to discuss observer reported violations from 2016 and 2017. The special agent shared ways to prevent violations and resolve future conflicts. The representative plans to share information with the company vessel captains. The special agent was invited to speak at the next Longline Coalition meeting.
- During surveillance of a local bay, an enforcement officer observed two kayakers repeatedly approach humpback whales within less than 50 yards. At one point, it appeared a kayak had placed itself within paddle length of a whale. During a subsequent interview, the kayaker estimated he had been “too close, it was scary." A written warning was issued.
- Two enforcement officers conducted a patrol to Akutan, Alaska by USCG helicopter. They contacted a processing plant and boarded three vessels.
- Two enforcement officers and a supervisory enforcement officer assisted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as they inspected vehicles at the U.S./Canada border. The operation focused MMPA, ESA, and Lacey Act laws and gathering information for future operations and investigations. The team inspected around 90 vehicles. A large amount of was gathered for future border
NOAA enforcement officers assist U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with vehicle inspections.
- An EO issued a $750 Summary Settlement to a general category in Delaware for selling HMS (tuna) to a wholesaler that didn’t possess a federal dealer permit. A written warning was also issued for sales of Atlantic Dolphin (mahi-mahi) on the same transactions that tuna was sold.
- An EO issued a $1,000 summary settlement to a Virginia charter/party vessel for fishing in the EEZ without obtaining NOAA charter/party permits. The vessel was also issued a written warning for failing to maintain species intact through landing (Spanish mackerel, King mackerel) and possessing Black Sea Bass fillets less than minimum size.
- An EO received a request from a North Carolina angler seeking information related to federal fishery permit information. The angler sought recreational and commercial information related to mackerel, tuna, dolphin and other pelagic species. The EO compiled a thorough list of permits required and resources available from NMFS SED, NED and HMS divisions.
- EOs conducted an HMS saturation patrol for Bluefin tuna in cooperation with the JEA partner - Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) in Cape Cod Bay, MA. The operation focused on the HMS fleet in regards to retention and reporting of Bluefin tuna. The EOs and MEP Officers conducted 68 at sea boardings over two days. Investigations will be ongoing in determining that required reporting was completed and permits were obtained per regulations.
Pacific Islands Division
An enforcement officer conducted an investigation in response to a complaint in which a pod of spinner dolphins in the
Billy Bay Area was harassed by a dolphin-watching vessel. The OLE special agent in Guam received the complaint from a caller. The OLE officer and officers from the Guam Marine Interdiction Task Force responded and interviewed the caller. The caller informed the officers that the vessel had departed the area but was able to provide a description and direction of travel. The officers surveilled a nearby marina and interviewed six charter boat captains who all stated that they were in the Billy Bay Area but did not harass the dolphins. The officers provided information on dolphin viewing guidelines.
Enforcement officers conducted an ESA patrol on the North Shores of Oahu, Hawaii. The officers traversed a 4x4 trail to one of the most remote shorelines on the island of Oahu. The officers found two molting, critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals, and monitored the animals from a distance. During the patrol, the officers encountered two hikers and spoke with them about marine mammal regulations. The hikers were appreciative of the officers’ presence in the area.
- An enforcement officer along with JEA partners from the Guam Customs Maritime Interdiction Task Force conducted a 2 day fish offloading operation audit. The officers monitored the offload while manually logging down the exact count and type of all offloaded fish. Officers monitored the preparation and packaging of all the fish to be air shipped to Japan. No violations were reported.
- A special agent met with the AUSA to discuss updates to an investigation involving IFQ fraud. Based on the conversation, the special agent located two witnesses in the case and set up interview dates.
- A special agent conducted surveillance to locate a subject in an MMPA investigation at the request of GCES. The surveillance included a covert based vehicle patrol. The special agent observed several MMPA tour boats and recreational boats interact with wild dolphins.
- An enforcement officer reviewed and processed JEA submitted case packages resulting in proposed summary settlements totaling $2,350. The case packages consisted of various TED violations as well as out of season spiny lobster and red snapper.
- Enforcement officers reviewed and processed 4 JEA cases from the west coast of Florida resulting in proposed summary settlements totaling $1,925.
- An enforcement officer conducted a land patrol of local dealers, marinas, boat ramps, and commercial docks in Port Orange, Ponce Inlet, Ormond Beach, and New Smyrna Beach post-Hurricane Irma to determine damage and fishing activity. A shrimper was boarded dockside and permits checked. The captain was offered compliance assistance with a courtesy Turtle Excluder Device examination once he completed net repairs. A headboat was boarded dockside in Ponce Inlet. Permits and sea turtle mitigation gear were checked and found in compliance. No other federal fisheries activity was noted.
West Coast Division
- An enforcement officer conducted at sea and dockside inspections. No violations were reported.