(a) The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides four basic enforcement remedies for violations, in ascending order of severity, as follows:
(1) Issuance of a citation (a type of warning), usually at the scene of the offense (see 15 CFR part 904, subpart E).
(2) Assessment by the Administrator of a civil money penalty.
(3) For certain violations, judicial forfeiture action against the vessel and its catch.
(4) Criminal prosecution of the owner or operator for some offenses. It shall be the policy of NMFS to enforce vigorously and equitably the provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act by utilizing that form or combination of authorized remedies best suited in a particular case to this end.
(b) Processing a case under one remedial form usually means that other remedies are inappropriate in that case. However, further investigation or later review may indicate the case to be either more or less serious than initially considered, or may otherwise reveal that the penalty first pursued is inadequate to serve the purposes of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under such circumstances, the Agency may pursue other remedies either in lieu of or in addition to the action originally taken. Forfeiture of the illegal catch does not fall within this general rule and is considered in most cases as only the initial step in remedying a violation by removing the ill-gotten gains of the offense.
(c) If a fishing vessel for which a permit has been issued under the Magnuson-Stevens Act is used in the commission of an offense prohibited by section 307 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NOAA may impose permit sanctions, whether or not civil or criminal action has been undertaken against the vessel or its owner or operator. In some cases, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires permit sanctions following the assessment of a civil penalty or the imposition of a criminal fine. In sum, the Magnuson-Stevens Act treats sanctions against the fishing vessel permit to be the carrying out of a purpose separate from that accomplished by civil and criminal penalties against the vessel or its owner or operator.