Recommendation 11: enforcement state and local

Direct the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, and the Attorney General to work with state and local enforcement authorities to expand information sharing and develop tools that address illegal fishing and seafood fraud at the state and local level.


State and local enforcement authorities have long played an important role in combating illegal fishing and seafood fraud. In regulating fisheries through enforcement in state waters and working with NOAA, monitoring landings of fish harvested in federal waters, state and local authorities are often the first recipients of information regarding potential illegal activity and illegally harvested products. They are a vital source of information for federal enforcement agencies and a critical component of fisheries enforcement. In many places, federal agencies already cooperate with state and local authorities on enforcement actions dealing with fisheries violations. For example, NOAA has a Cooperative Enforcement Program (CEP) in place with 27 state and territorial law enforcement agencies, which provide those agencies with the training and authority to enforce federal marine resource laws. DOIUSFWS also has a CEP in place with 47 state and territorial law enforcement agencies, which provide those agencies with the training and authority to enforce federal wildlife laws. Likewise, the Department of Justice (DOJ) frequently works with state and local law enforcement officials on investigations and prosecutions, and has helped establish regional environmental crimes task forces that help foster valuable information sharing and other efficiency building coordination.

State and local authorities also play a key role in detecting and preventing seafood fraud, since intrastate seafood sales, including those at the restaurant and retail level, are regulated by state and local, rather than federal, authorities. Agencies such as the FDA contract with state and local authorities that inspect retail and food establishments to carry out inspections at facilities under FDA’s jurisdiction. State and local authorities thus benefit from FDA training and information regarding seafood inspections and species designations.

Implementation Steps

Lead Agencies: NOAA and DOJ
Other Agencies Involved: FDA, USFWS
  • By June 2015, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) will prioritize combating seafood fraud and the sale of IUU seafood products for joint federal/state enforcement operations under its CEP. Actions to reflect this prioritization would include:
    • Providing IUU fishing and seafood fraud–specific enforcement trainings on a semi-annual basis with state and local personnel, including inspectors and investigators.
    • Developing online training modules and technical assistance (e.g., assistance to increase species identification capabilities) to help law enforcement recognize and document potential IUU fishing and seafood fraud issues.
    • Developing procedures for expanded information sharing and access to NOAA OLE fisheries intelligence analysts for law enforcement partners under the CEP.
    • Committing NOAA enforcement officers and special agent resources as appropriate to investigating potential seafood fraud and IUU seafood products violations.
  • In 2015, DOJ will prioritize investigation and prosecution of cases involving IUU fishing and seafood fraud in coordinated efforts, including with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the relevant regional environmental crimes task forces. These efforts will include NOAA CEP state enforcement representatives.
    • By April 2015, DOJ will designate contact points for fisheries agents to directly speak with and obtain support from specialized prosecutors about ongoing investigations or referrals related to seafood fraud and illegal fishing.
    • By May 2015, DOJ’s Environmental Crimes Policy Committee will explore ways to engage U.S. Attorney’s Offices on the need to prioritize seafood fraud and illegal fishing cases.
    • By July 2015, DOJ will explore ways and means to conduct a pilot judicial training workshop regarding both fisheries and wildlife cases, with a goal, if those explorations are productive, of conducting a limited pilot workshop during 2015.
  • The negotiated FDA state food safety inspection contracts to be awarded in FY 2016 will include a focus area on mislabeling and seafood species substitution issues. FDA will conduct training with state contractors and encourage information sharing of mislabeling and seafood species substitution issues beginning in FY 2015.

Fish and Wildlife Service worker on boat checking gill net full of fish. Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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