Federal and state offices join forces on sea patrol
State land officers will back efforts to enforce marine laws
Federal and state agencies have a new pact for increased boat patrols to enforce federal fishing and marine resources laws.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service will pay the state Department of Land and Natural Resources $60,000 for help enforcing laws at sea and on the docks over the next year, according to an agreement signed yesterday.
The state DLNR enforcement officers will provide 735 hours under the agreement to support the federal agency's work, a DLNR announcement said.
"I look at it as a force multiplier to enhance my ability to respond," said Judith Fogarty, special agent in charge of the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement's Pacific Islands division. "I now have not only agents who work for me, but I can reach out to state and local officers."
The joint enforcement agreement strengthens state officers' authority to enforce federal laws, Fogarty said. Other coastal states have similar agreements, she said.
Duties could include regulating longline and bottom fishing rules and protecting endangered species, such as the Hawaiian monk seal or humpback whale, Fogarty said.
Fogarty would not say yesterday how many NOAA enforcement officers serve in Hawaii. Until now the federal officers, who do not have boats of their own, have relied on Coast Guard vessels for ocean transport, she said. Now the federal agents can go with state DLNR officers in their boats, she said.