The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released a draft of its enforcement priorities and invited the public to submit comments through Jan. 9.
“Fair and effective enforcement is essential to our ability to rebuild and protect the public’s fisheries and other natural resources, and to protect the many fishermen who play by the rules,” Bruce Buckson, director of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, said in a statement. “These priorities will help us focus our resources and strategically use our state and federal partnerships to provide the most benefit for marine resources and the American people.”
NOAA’s jurisdiction spans more than 300,000 square miles of open ocean and 85,000 miles of U.S. coastline, and the agency is charged with enforcing laws and regulations found predominantly in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the Lacey Act.
The national priorities focus on:
• Helping the fishing industry understand and follow regulations that support sustainable fish stocks and a sustainable fishing industry
• Implementing compliance and enforcement plans for catch-share management
• Monitoring fish product imports for compliance with domestic and international laws and regulations
• Protecting marine resources in National Marine Sanctuaries
• Protecting marine mammal and endangered species by enforcing bycatch reduction, gear and closed-area regulations
• Supporting observer programs, which collect critical scientific data about fish stock status, bycatch and fishery interactions with protected species
Comments on NOAA’s enforcement priorities can be submitted via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org; via fax at (301) 427-2055, attention acting deputy director Tracy Dunn; or by sending hard copy to Dunn c/o NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, 8484 Georgia Ave., Suite 415, Silver Spring, MD 20910.