Coastal Marine Resources
Fisheries Management
Protected Species
Ecosystem Observations
Coral Reef Conservation
Ecosystem Research


Program Mission

NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement (ENF) is a federal law enforcement agency charged with gaining compliance with federal marine conservation management laws and regulations that protect our nation's living marine resources . NOAA Fisheries' special agents and enforcement officers have specified authority to enforce over 39 statutes and support the implementation of numerous treaties related to the management of living marine resources. ENF's efforts center on the investigation of egregious violations, monitoring regulated activities, and educating the user communities regarding conservation and management regulations and laws. ENF operates a national vessel monitoring program using technology to magnify its ability to monitor commercial fishing. The Program also engages State and Territorial marine conservation law enforcement agencies in cooperative enforcement partnerships to extend its reach along the U.S. coastline and throughout the Exclusive Economic Zone. Special Agents and Enforcement Officers investigate both civil and criminal violations, seize illegal property and contraband, and gather information on violations of laws and regulations under NOAA's purview. Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS), ENF's formal approach to involving the user community, promotes voluntary compliance through constituent communication, public awareness and education by committing to community interaction and partnerships. ENF also works very closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to provide at sea enforcement.

Ecosystem Approaches to Management

Enforcement plays an important role in Ecosystem Approaches to Management (EAM) by contributing directly to the management and stewardship of marine and coastal ecosystems. The Program fulfills this roll by seeking to gain compliance with the conservation measures that are developed by the other Programs of EGT using EAM strategies. ENF works primarily with EGT's Fisheries Management , Protected Resources , and Coastal & Marine Resources Programs. These Programs work closely with NOAA's science programs to determine steps required to protect NOAA's stewardship resources. These same Programs then work with Enforcement to create regulations which can be enforced to protect those resources. Additionally, ENF works through public education and direct enforcement action to gain compliance with those regulations.

NOAA's ENF and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) are implementing public outreach, enforcement monitoring and enforcement action to gain compliance with the 2008 Right Whale Ship Strike Speed Restriction rule. This rule was created to further protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.  NOAA research has shown that vessel speeds directly affect mortality if a whale is struck by a ship. In an attempt to reduce ship strikes, related fatalities, and reduce the possibility of the extinction of this species NOAA has created a speed restriction within Seasonal Management Areas (SMAs) along the east coast of the United States where North Atlantic Right Whale habitat and migration transects active shipping lanes. Outreach to the shipping industry, monitoring of vessel speeds through the Automated Information System (AIS) large vessels are required to operate, at sea monitoring by the USCG and the investigation of violations by the ENF are being implemented in support of this effort.

Ecosystem Programs

Aquaculture Coastal Marine Resources Enforcement
Fisheries Management Protected Species Ecosystem Observations
Coral Reef Conservation Habitat Ecosystem Research


Program Manager:
Dale Jones

Program Coordinator:
Mark Paterni