Weekly Highlights - April 30, 2018

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

Alaska Division

  • A Special Agent traveled to Seattle, WA to provide training to observers during their 3-week initial training. This training was conducted in conjunction with General Counsel - Enforcement Section.
  • Enforcement Officers issued three summary settlement offers, totaling $2,784, to vessel operators for exceeding bycatch limits.
  • Enforcement Officers issued 17 summary settlement offers, totaling $7,617, to vessel operators
    for exceeding pollock trip limits in the Gulf of Alaska.

Northeast Division

  • An Enforcement Officer provided compliance assistance to a NGOM scallop vessel for a minor overage.
  • An Enforcement Officer provided 2018 HMS regulatory outreach guides, NOAA Fisheries Navigator handouts, and GARFO regulatory outreach materials to local fishing tackle supply shops and marina fishing center/stores in Virginia.
  • An Enforcement Officer boarded a commercial vessel landing in Virginia with its North Carolina possession limits of black sea bass and summer flounder. The operator had not completed any FVTRs for the trip, compliance assistance was provided on FVTR requirements.

Pacific Islands Division

  • Enforcement Officers conducted a land patrol focused on outreach and compliance assistance of swimmers at Makua Bay, Oahu. Officers observed and documented swimmers from shore who were allegedly pursuing spinner dolphins, and spoke with them as they emerged from the ocean. Thirteen swimmers were contacted by the officers and educated about MMPA regulations concerning spinner dolphins.
  • An Enforcement Officer attended the Bay of Dreams “Clean the Bay In and Out” beach cleanup day at Pokai Bay, in Waianae, Oahu. The Officer assisted other volunteers, including a group of scuba divers, clean the beach and surrounding area, as well as the bottom of the bay. More than 600 pounds of refuse was removed and collected. Some items found on the sea floor were snorkels and masks, old tires, pieces of engine block, anchors, fishing line and hooks, fishing net, and many other items. The Pokai Bay area is a common resting place for Hawaiian spinner dolphins and is frequented by green sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, and a variety of other sea life. Pokai Bay is also a State of Hawaii Fishery Management Area.
  • A Special Agent attended the sentencing hearing of the subject of an ESA turtle take case. The subject was sentenced in absentia, due to medical issues. He was sentenced to 1-year probation and fifty (50) hours community service. Case is closed.

Southeast Division

  • An Enforcement Officer met with several shrimpers in Mt. Pleasant to discuss the cold water shrimp closure and TED regulations. The EO agreed to return and conduct courtesy TED examinations when the boats and nets were ready to fish. The EO also met with the manager of a marina that is hosting a cobia tournament and explained new bag and boat limits, new cobia size lengths and charter boat regulations.
  • A Special Agent helped develop a new protocol for providing compliance assistance to vessel owners, operators and/or technical managers of vessels used to commit less egregious, alleged violations of Speed Restriction Regulations along the East Coast of the U.S. The division will incorporate
    investigative support personnel to document and process compliance assistance letters for less egregious alleged offenses.
  • During a JEA patrol with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, an Enforcement Officer conducted a TED examination on a commercial shrimping vessel. Compliance assistance was provided for bar spacing on two of the four nets examined. The violations were fixed on-scene before departure.

West Coast Division

  • An Enforcement Officer and Special Agent met with representatives from the Skagit River System Cooperative, who provide natural resource services for the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. Topics covered were several possible ESA violations, regarding salmon and steelhead habitat, within the Skagit River watershed and Puget Sound on non-tribal land. This meeting developed a good working relationship with the tribal organization where we stressed the importance
    of bringing these possible violations to NOAA as soon as they occur.
  • A Special Agent represented OLE at the National Observer Program Advisory Team (NOPAT) held in Newport, OR. The agent gave a presentation update on complaints, cases, and an overview of training modules provided from October to present to the observer program.
  • An Enforcement Officer conducted a dockside boarding of a commercial groundfish vessel and discovered the operator did not have 2018 fishing permits onboard his fishing vessel. The officer verified the vessel was issued current permits and later the operator was able to obtain a photograph of the permits. A verbal warning was issued of the requirement to have permits on board.