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MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has added a public comment period to the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the Joint Law Enforcement Agreement Advisory Group. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the Craven County Agricultural Center, 300 Industrial Drive, New Bern.

Public comment will be accepted at the end of the meeting. A meeting agenda is attached.

Members of the public may also comment in writing as to whether the state should enter into a joint law enforcement agreement with the federal government. Written comments may be sent to Marine Patrol Capt. Steve Anthony at Steve.Anthony@ncdenr.gov or at P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557. Comments must be received by the division by 5 p.m. July 1 to be considered as part of the study.

The division is conducting a 12-month study to determine the possible impacts, costs and benefits of a joint law enforcement agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service, and whether the N.C. General Assembly should authorize the division to enter into an agreement. The division is required, by law, to submit findings of a study on this topic to the General Assembly by Oct. 15. Consultation with an advisory group is part of this process.

In a joint enforcement agreement, the N.C. Marine Patrol would contract with the National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement to supplement and enhance federal fisheries law enforcement capabilities. The agreement would be accompanied by an enforcement plan in which both the state and federal agencies agree to a list of priorities and activities to be enforced by state officers. In return, the Marine Patrol would receive monetary compensation and training about federal regulations.

A joint enforcement agreement also would allow Marine Patrol officers to charge fishermen with minor federal offenses, and adjudicate those charges through state district court.

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