10/12/21 SAFMC News Release: U.S. Coast Guard Lt. James Bruce Recognized as Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

Lt. James Bruce pauses with Council Chair Mel Bell (right) and Spud Woodward, Chair of the Council's Law Enforcement Committee

PDF Version

December 10, 2021 - As the Commanding Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Southeast Regional Fisheries Training Center, Lieutenant James Bruce reflects the dedication of the U.S. Coast to the protection and enforcement of the region’s Living Marine Resources. For his service and work to improve training operations, Lt. Bruce received the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award at this week’s meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in Beaufort, North Carolina.

Lt. Bruce oversees the training, curriculum, and certification for the more than 150 Coast Guard Law Enforcement Officers that annually enter the Fisheries Training Program in Charleston, South Carolina. The Southeast Regional Fisheries Training Center (SRFTC) is one of five such training centers regionally located around the country. “We are fortunate to have an excellent U.S. Coast Guard Fisheries Training Center in Charleston,” said Chairman Bell. “With his strong academic background in fisheries, including a master’s degree from Scripps, Lt. Bruce has been actively involved in the fisheries management process and a dedicated advocate for improving fisheries enforcement.”

Since assuming command of the Training Center in 2019, Lt Bruce has pioneered initiatives directly impacting fisheries enforcement. These include a coordinated effort to expand the footprint of the Training Center by providing operational support for fisheries boardings and surge operations in federal waters, resulting in a 13% increase in fisheries boardings in the South Atlantic between 2019 and 2020. Working with NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species (HMS) office, Lt. Bruce led the effort to create a “Status of Fisheries” website, tracking regulations in real-time to provide information to enforcement officers. Lt Bruce also led staff at SRFTC in producing the first-of-its-kind “QR” coded reference guides for on-scene enforcement officers dealing with possible violations of HMS Lacey Act and Florida recreational lobster regulations.

The Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award was established by the Council in 2010 to recognize distinctive service, professionalism, and dedication to enforcing fisheries regulations in the South Atlantic region. Nominees for the annual award may be submitted from each of the southeastern state law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard, and NOAA Fisheries.

According to his peers, Lt. Bruce is known for his unyielding curiosity and purposeful drive, utilizing his academic background in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation to speak formally through education programs, engage with local fish houses, and bring a real-world viewpoint to the officers he trains.

“I have to say I am humbled by the selection, especially knowing the caliber and esteem of the state and federal fisheries enforcement officers that I get the privilege to work with,” said Lt. Bruce. “The real prize is getting to work alongside NOAA OLE and the many state agencies in our South Atlantic region. It’s really great that the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council makes such an effort to recognize law enforcement and our collective effort to enforce fisheries regulations and the objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act to prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, and increase the long-term economic and social benefits in our region.”