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Title 15

Displaying title 15, up to date as of 9/16/2021. Title 15 was last amended 9/15/2021.

Title 15

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Subpart D - Permit Sanctions and Denials
§ 904.300 Scope and applicability.

(a) This subpart sets forth procedures governing the suspension, revocation, modification, and denial of permits for reasons relating to enforcement of the statutes cited in § 904.1(c), except for the statutes listed in paragraph (b) of this section. Nothing in this subpart precludes sanction or denial of a permit for reasons not relating to enforcement. As appropriate, and unless otherwise specified in this subpart, the provisions of subparts A, B, and C of this part apply to this subpart.

(b) Regulations governing sanctions and denials of permits issued under the Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act (30 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) appear at 15 CFR part 970.

§ 904.301 Bases for permit sanctions or denials.

(a) Unless otherwise specified in a settlement agreement, or otherwise provided in this subpart, NOAA may take action under this subpart with respect to any permit issued under the statutes cited in § 904.1(c). The bases for an action to sanction or deny a permit include but are not limited to the following:

(1) The commission of any violation prohibited by any statute administered by NOAA, including violation of any regulation promulgated or permit condition or restriction prescribed thereunder, by the permit holder or with the use of a permitted vessel;

(2) The failure to pay a civil penalty assessed under subparts B and C of this part;

(3) The failure to pay a criminal fine imposed or to satisfy any other liability incurred in a judicial proceeding under any of the statutes administered by NOAA; or

(4) The failure to comply with any term of a settlement agreement.

(b) A permit sanction may be imposed, or a permit denied, under this subpart with respect to the particular permit pertaining to the violation or nonpayment, and may also be applied to any NOAA permit held or sought by the permit holder or successor in interest to the permit, including permits for other activities or for other vessels. Examples of the application of this policy are the following:

(1) NOAA suspends Vessel A's fishing permit for nonpayment of a civil penalty pertaining to Vessel A. The owner of Vessel A buys Vessel B and applies for a permit for Vessel B to participate in the same or a different fishery. NOAA may withhold that permit until the sanction against Vessel A is lifted.

(2) NOAA revokes a Marine Mammal Protection Act permit for violation of its conditions. The permit holder subsequently applies for a permit under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA may deny the ESA application.

(3) Captain X, an officer in Country Y's fishing fleet, is found guilty of assaulting an enforcement officer. NOAA may impose a condition on the permits of Country Y's vessels that they may not fish in the Exclusive Economic Zone with Captain X aboard. (See § 904.320(c)).

(c) A permit sanction may not be extinguished by sale or transfer. A vessel's permit sanction is not extinguished by sale or transfer of the vessel, nor by dissolution or reincorporation of a vessel owner corporation, and shall remain with the vessel until lifted by NOAA.

§ 904.302 Notice of permit sanction (NOPS).

(a) A NOPS will be served on the permit holder as provided in § 904.3. When a foreign fishing vessel is involved, service will be made on the agent authorized to receive and respond to any legal process for vessels of that country.

(b) The NOPS will set forth the permit sanction to be imposed, the bases for the permit sanction, and any opportunity for a hearing. It will state the effective date of the permit sanction, which will ordinarily not be earlier than 30 days after the date of receipt of the NOPS (see § 904.322).

(c) Upon demand by an authorized enforcement officer, a permit holder must surrender a permit against which a permit sanction has taken effect. The effectiveness of the permit sanction, however, does not depend on surrender of the permit.

§ 904.303 Notice of intent to deny permit (NIDP).

(a) NOAA may issue a NIDP if the permit applicant has been charged with a violation of a statute, regulation, or permit administered by NOAA, for failure to pay a civil penalty or criminal fine, or for failure to comply with any term of a settlement agreement.

(b) The NIDP will set forth the basis for its issuance and any opportunity for a hearing, and will be served in accordance with § 904.3.

(c) NOAA will not refund any fee(s) submitted with a permit application if a NIDP is issued.

(d) A NIDP may be issued in conjunction with or independent of a NOPS. Nothing in this section should be interpreted to preclude NOAA from initiating a permit sanction action following issuance of the permit, or from withholding a permit under § 904.310(c) or § 904.320.

§ 904.304 Opportunity for hearing.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, the recipient of a NOPS or NIDP will be provided an opportunity for a hearing, as governed by § 904.201.

(b) There will be no opportunity for a hearing if, with respect to the violation that forms the basis for the NOPS or NIDP, the permit holder had a previous opportunity to participate as a party in an administrative or judicial proceeding, whether or not the permit holder did participate, and whether or not such a hearing was held.

§ 904.305 Final administrative decision.

(a) If no request for hearing is timely filed as provided in § 904.201(a), the NOPS or NIDP becomes effective as the final administrative decision and order of NOAA 30 days after service of the NOPS or NIDP or on the last day of any delay period granted.

(b) If a request for hearing is timely filed in accordance with § 904.201(a), the date of the final administrative decision is as provided in subpart C of this part.

Permit Sanctions for Noncompliance
§ 904.310 Nature of permit sanctions.

(a) NOAA may suspend, modify, or deny a permit if:

(1) A civil penalty has been assessed against the permit holder under subparts B and C of this part, but the permit holder has failed to pay the civil penalty, or has failed to comply with any term of a settlement agreement; or

(2) A criminal fine or other liability for violation of any of the statutes administered by NOAA has been imposed against the permit holder in a judicial proceeding, but payment has not been made.

(b) NOAA will suspend any permit issued to a foreign fishing vessel under section 204(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act under the circumstances set forth in paragraph (a) of this section.

(c) NOAA will withhold any other permit for which the permit holder applies if either of the conditions in paragraph (a) of this section is applicable.

§ 904.311 Compliance.

If the permit holder pays the criminal fine or civil penalty in full or agrees to terms satisfactory to NOAA for payment:

(a) The suspension will not take effect;

(b) Any permit suspended under § 904.310 will be reinstated by order of NOAA; or

(c) Any application by the permit holder may be granted if the permit holder is otherwise qualified to receive the permit.

Permit Sanction for Violations
§ 904.320 Nature of permit sanctions.

Subject to the requirements of this subpart, NOAA may take any of the following actions or combination of actions if a permit holder or permitted vessel violates a statute administered by NOAA, or any regulation promulgated or permit condition prescribed thereunder:

(a) Revocation. A permit may be cancelled, with or without prejudice to issuance of the permit in the future. Additional requirements for issuance of any future permit may be imposed.

(b) Suspension. A permit may be suspended either for a specified period of time or until stated requirements are met, or both. If contingent on stated requirements being met, the suspension is with prejudice to issuance of any permit until the requirements are met.

(c) Modification. A permit may be modified, as by imposing additional conditions and restrictions. If the permit was issued for a foreign fishing vessel under section 204(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, additional conditions and restrictions may be imposed on the application of the foreign nation involved and on any permits issued under such application.

§ 904.321 Reinstatement of permit.

(a) A permit suspended for a specified period of time will be reinstated automatically at the end of the period.

(b) A permit suspended until stated requirements are met will be reinstated only by order of NOAA.

§ 904.322 Interim action.

(a) To protect marine resources during the pendency of an action under this subpart, in cases of willfulness, or as otherwise required in the interest of public health, welfare, or safety, a Judge may order immediate suspension, modification, or withholding of a permit until a decision is made on the action proposed in a NOPS or NIDP.

(b) The Judge will order interim action under paragraph (a) of this section, only after finding that there exists probable cause to believe that the violation charged in the NOPS or NIDP was committed. The Judge's finding of probable cause, which will be summarized in the order, may be made:

(1) After review of the factual basis of the alleged violation, following an opportunity for the parties to submit their views (orally or in writing, in the Judge's discretion); or

(2) By adoption of an equivalent finding of probable cause or an admission in any administrative or judicial proceeding to which the recipient of the NOPS or NIDP was a party, including, but not limited to, a hearing to arrest or set bond for a vessel in a civil forfeiture action or an arraignment or other hearing in a criminal action. Adoption of a finding or admission under this paragraph may be made only after the Judge reviews pertinent portions of the transcript or other records, documents, or pleadings from the other proceeding.

(c) An order for interim action under paragraph (a) of this section is unappealable and will remain in effect until a decision is made on the NOPS or NIDP. Where such interim action has been taken, the Judge will expedite any hearing requested under § 904.304.