NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement issued a written warning this month to a Florida man, Anthony Armento, who is accused of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The MMPA prohibits people from harassing, capturing, hunting, or killing whales or other marine mammals. MMPA violations can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000 and criminal penalties up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to a year, or both.
“The MMPA is the primary mechanism that we have to manage and conserve marine animals in the United States,” stated NOAA marine mammal scientist Erin Fougeres. “It does make it illegal to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to do any of those things to a marine mammal.”
The alleged harassment occurred on December 16 in the waters off Pompano Beach, Florida. That morning, a man was seen getting on top of a sperm whale languishing in shallow waters. The whale was pronounced dead hours later the same day.
NOAA’s decision to issue Armento a written citation was to document the violation, as well providing justification for future action should Armento be cited again.
Witness photographs helped law enforcement officials identify Armento as the violator, and have led to arrests in other cases involving harassment of marine mammals. NOAA encourages anyone who sees possible violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to report it to NOAA’s enforcement hot line at 1-800-853-1964.
Full coverage of this takedown was provided by NBC’s local affiliate in Miami. Read the full story here.