Timeline of NOAA Enforcement Program Improvements

Living marine resources law enforcement is critical to creating a level playing field for U.S. fishermen and enabling sustainable fisheries to support vibrant coastal communities.  NOAA is focused on having an effective and fair fisheries law enforcement program, and has made wide-ranging changes that will result in a significant and positive transformation.

In June 2009, following concerns expressed by Congress and affected communities, NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco requested that the Department of Commerce Inspector General conduct a national review of NOAA’s enforcement program.  Addressing the various enforcement related issues raised by the Office of the Inspector General has been a high priority for the Department of Commerce and NOAA for more than 3 years and we are committed to completing these actions.

NOAA has conducted a top-to-bottom review and overhaul of its enforcement program.  We have hired new leadership, implemented new policies to ensure consistent enforcement practices nationwide, and put in place better accounting and oversight systems.  At NOAA, we are seeingsigns of a meaningful and lasting transformation in our enforcement program.  Our reinvigorated law enforcement program is poised to effectively execute NOAA’s enforcement priorities.

A few key completed actions include: 

Asset Forfeiture Fund (AFF) Policy:

Penalty Policy:

Enforcement Priorities:

Compliance Assistance:

Workforce Analysis:

We appreciate the contribution that the OIG has made in identifying needed changes, and we will follow this reform process through to completion.  Since the initial report, NOAA has undertaken more than 150 separate actions to change and strengthen both the enforcement program and the uses of the AFF. A timeline of our actions is below.


March 2009

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April 2009

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May 2009

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June 2009

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January 2010

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February 2010

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March 2010

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April 2010

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May 2010

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June 2010