Get Email Updates

New Faces on the Docks: NOAA Hires Uniformed Enforcement Officers

This year NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement in the Northeast Division hired seven new uniformed enforcement officers in an effort to increase patrol presence with a focus on compliance assistance and education.

“OLE will continue to bolster its enforcement officer staff across the country over the next several years,” said OLE Deputy Director Logan Gregory. “Fair and effective law enforcement is critical toward protecting the commercial and recreational fishing industries, and the sustainability of our living marine resources.”

OLE’s sworn personnel are comprised of enforcement officers and special agents, each with their own distinct roles.

Enforcement officers focus on improving compliance via face-to-face interactions with industry. Through patrols enforcement officers increase NOAA’s presence, provide information about regulations directly to the fishing industry, and at-sea enforcement in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard and state partners. Enforcement officers focus on directly engaging with fishermen to help ensure they understand fishing regulations. Additionally, EOs handle patrol-level investigations such as landing fish in excess of possession limits or prohibited and undersized species, fishing in closed areas, illegal fishing gear and reporting issues.

Special agents conduct more complex and long term investigations in area such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, fraudulent mislabeling of seafood, smuggling or trafficking of threatened or endangered marine animal parts such as sperm whale teeth; and the intentional harm or attempt to harm protected marine animals such as whales, seals, and turtles.

With the area of responsibility spanning more than 3 million square miles of ocean, 85,000 miles of U.S. coastline, 13 National Marine Sanctuaries, and four Marine National Monuments, OLE has an extensive mission. OLE’s Northeast Division expects to hire and train seven additional enforcement officers in 2016. This strategic shift in staffing will increase the visibility of OLE’s programs and provide greater outreach, emphasizing prevention of unintentional violations, and education as a means to improve voluntary compliance.

“Most fishermen and seafood dealers are honest, hardworking individuals, with difficult jobs in a highly regulated industry,” said Gregory. “We are committed to helping them understand the regulations they must abide by. Increasing our patrol presence will strengthen our ability to ensure compliance assistance and education is available, while helping to ensure a level playing field for the industry.”

Meet the New Enforcement Officers

Eric Provencher, Lieutenant, North East Supervisory Enforcement Officer

Lt. Provencher began his law enforcement career in 1996 with the National Park Service, where he last served as the Deputy Chief Ranger at Delaware Water Gap before joining OLE.

Jason Berthiaume, Enforcement Officer, Gloucester, MA

Before graduating the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 2005, Officer Berthiaume realized his interest in marine law enforcement and quickly began his career as a Fisheries Observer. From there he was hired as a Marine Patrol Officer for the state of Maine where he worked closely with the lobster industry in Stonington and other local ports. In 2009 Berthiaume transitioned to the NOAA Sustainable Fisheries Division, where he was involved with policy and regulatory development. This year he joined OLE for the face-to-face interactions with local fishermen and opportunity to help the industry navigate and comply with the complex regulations in the Northeast.

Kevin Swiechowicz, Enforcement Officer, New Bedford, MA

After completing a degree in wildlife conservation at the University of Massachusetts Officer Swiechowicz became a Wildlife Inspector for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This position afforded him the opportunity to work alongside USFWS Agents who were regulating the international and interstate trade in wildlife products. Swiechowicz became involved with investigations covering topics from sport hunted trophies originating in Zimbabwe to smuggled corals from Indonesia. Swiechowicz made the jump to OLE to assist in leveling the playing field for all industry partners.

Mark Kerr, Enforcement Officer, Portland, ME

Officer Kerr began his law enforcement career with the National Park Service in 1995, working as a Ranger at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in West Virginia and Catoctin Mountain Park in Thurmont, Md.  Kerr served in law enforcement positions at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Maine, and Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Mass. Through these positions, Mark gained experience and expertise in wildlife law enforcement, while cooperatively working with state and local entities in the conservation field.  Kerr saw the opportunity to join OLE as a way concentrate on the preservation of marine environment.

Wynn Carney, Lieutenant, Mid-Atlantic Supervisory Enforcement Officer

Lt. Carney holds an undergraduate degree in criminal justice and a graduate degree in public administration from Georgia Southern University. He began his law enforcement career 15 years ago and has served as a Game Warden, a municipal police officer, a special agent, and Park Ranger.

Conservation of the nation’s fisheries has been a primary focus of Carney’s law enforcement career. He considers fisheries conservation to be one of his passions and views his career as much more than just a job. Carney believes his role in keeping marine resources healthy and sustainable for future generations is of the utmost importance.

Jed Fiske, Enforcement Officer, Wall, NJ

Officer Fiske graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Recreation Management and Policy, and a Minor in Environmental Conservation. Since graduating, he has worked as a law enforcement officer for the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as regulatory enforcement for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Fiske takes pride in being able to protect our nation’s natural resources and looks forward to learning more about the commercial fishing industry.

John Ford, Enforcement Officer, Newport News, VA

Before being hired as an Enforcement Officer, Officer Ford began his career with NOAA in 2009 working on OLE’s Cooperative Enforcement Program. In his new role, Ford hopes to improve working relationships between the fishing community and marine conservation. He enjoys the opportunity to be a part of the natural resource management partnership to ensure fishing opportunities for future generations.