February 3, 2010
NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco today instructed the agency’s head attorney and its top fisheries manager to take immediate and long-term actions to improve the agency’s enforcement and legal operations and enhance its relationship with the fishing community.
In a memo issued today, Dr. Lubchenco directed NOAA General Counsel Lois Schiffer, and NOAA Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Jim Balsiger, to take a two-part approach to responding to the Jan. 21 recommendations by the Commerce Department’s Inspector General that reviewed the policies and practices of NOAA’s fisheries enforcement system. Lubchenco requested the review in June 2009 after listening to concerns of fishermen and Congress.
“I take this report very seriously and I want a comprehensive approach to addressing both the IG’s observations and the perceptions of fishermen. Fish are a public resource that should be protected through proper regulation and enforcement for the benefit of Americans, coastal economies and the marine environment. We can’t manage effectively without trust,” said Dr. Lubchenco. “Taking these steps will help us resolve the issues identified by the Inspector General and enhance our efforts to work with the fishing industry and public in a more constructive manner.”
NOAA will implement the following immediate actions:
NOAA will develop, by March 21, long-term strategies that:
These ten initial steps are intended to begin to resolve the issues identified by the IG. NOAA will build upon these steps to develop a comprehensive plan that responds to all of the IG’s recommendations.
The IG report is available online at http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/.
The more than 200 agents and attorneys in NOAA’s Office for Law Enforcement and the Office of the General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation are responsible for ensuring compliance with more than 35 statutes, including the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Endangered Species Act. Their jurisdiction covers more than three million square miles of open ocean, more than 85,000 miles of U.S. coastline, the nation’s 13 national marine sanctuaries and its marine national monuments. As part of their mission to protect our nation’s marine resources by ensuring compliance with fisheries laws and regulations, they help to protect fish stocks, marine mammals, and the marine environment, as well as the livelihoods of law-abiding commercial and recreational fishermen.NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.