A NOAA law enforcement boat patrols offshore Maui

Enforcement

Enforcement

Beyond science and regulations, we enforce more than 40 laws designed to protect marine life and their habitat. We enforce domestic laws and international treaty requirements to ensure these global marine resources are available for future generations. In partnership with states and other federal agencies, our special agents and enforcement officers work on all U.S. coasts and inland riverways to ensure compliance with the nation’s marine resource laws and take enforcement action when violators disobey the laws.

Our primary jurisdiction is the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, which includes waters from 3 to 200 miles off the U.S. coast, including more than 3 million square miles of open-ocean and more than 95,000 miles of coastline. This includes 13 national marine sanctuaries and four marine national monuments.

Key laws we enforce:

CURRENT RULE MAKING //

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FACT

40+ laws enforced by NOAA Fisheries

These include the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, National Marine Sanctuaries Act, Lacey Act, and North Pacific Halibut Act.

3+ million square miles of open-ocean and 95,000 miles of coastline

NOAA Fisheries monitors and protects the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, which includes waters from 3 to 200 miles off the U.S. coast, including more than 3 million square miles of open-ocean and more than 95,000 miles of coastline. This area includes 13 national marine sanctuaries and four marine national monuments.

4,000+ fishing vessels

The number of fishing vessels monitored by our Vessel Monitoring System. It is the largest national VMS fleet in the world.

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Report a Violation

Call (800) 853-1964 to report possible violations of our federal marine resource laws. We provide live operator coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone in the United States. During business hours, you also may call the closest Office of Law Enforcement office to report a possible violation.

Learn more on what to report

Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

Watching marine animals in their natural habitat can be a positive way to promote conservation and respect for the animals and the marine environment. However, human activities—even those that might seem harmless or be well intended—can disturb animals, destroy important habitats, and even result in injury to people and animals. Please learn how to responsibly share the shore and sea with marine life for your safety and theirs and because it’s the law.

Learn more about marine mammal viewing guidelines

Enforcement Priorities

We established enforcement priorities that outline our focus on making enforcement work as effectively and efficiently as possible for sustainable fisheries management and the protection and conservation of marine species. While the identified priority areas will be our focus, we will continue to encourage compliance with and enforce all of the marine statutes and regulations we are responsible for.

Learn more about our enforcement priorities

Compliance Assistance

We want to help you abide the laws and regulations enacted to conserve and protect our nation's marine resources. The rules change frequently, and we want to keep you informed. Through compliance assistance, we help educate users about the rules so they can take the appropriate actions.  

Learn more about our compliance hand outs

Insight

Learn more about NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement.

Law Enforcement officer measuring