Law Office of Patrick Flanigan - Commercial Fishing Law

Law Office of
Patrick Flanigan
P.O. Box 42
Swarthmore, PA 19081-0042
Toll-free: 877-275-5191
Phone: 610-628-0539
E-mail Us

Commercial Fishing and Maritime Law, Employment Law

Fishing Violations Lawyer

NOVA, NOPS and Fishing Permit Violations

Protecting Your Rights and Your Livelihood

If you are a fisherman or boat owner, an alleged violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act or a fishery management plan (FMP) can have a serious impact on your livelihood. When your fishing or operating permit is at stake, or you face steep sanctions, acting quickly is critical. You only have a limited time period in which to respond to a notice of violation from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) or else face a default judgment against you.

At the Law Office of Patrick Flanigan, attorney Patrick Flanigan represents clients nationwide who have been charged with NOVA, NOPS and fishing permit violations. Challenging these violations involves a legally and procedurally complex area of maritime law, and we have the necessary experience and skill to represent you effectively. To schedule your free initial consultation, contact the firm online or call toll free at 877-275-5191.

Violations and Consequences

Fishermen and boat owners may be charged with a number of violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act or a fishery management plan, including:

  • Actions involving a Vessel Monitoring System, also known as a VMS or "black box"
  • Fishing in excess of quota
  • Fishing in a closed areas and vessel movements
  • Fishing with improper gear

If you have been served a NOVA (Notice of Violation and Assessment) or NOPS (Notice of Permit Sanction), you may be subject to a monetary sanction or a sanction imposed upon your fishing or operating permit.

The severity of a NOVA fine is based upon the current violation and any history of violations with a maximum statutory penalty of $130,000. NOPS sanctions can include a revocation of your fishing vessel permit and your operating permit for up to a year or more. With so much at stake, you cannot afford to rely on counsel inexperienced in handling these types of cases.

Avoiding Procedural Pitfalls

If you do not respond to a notice within 30 days, you face a default judgment. It is important to respond within this time frame or file for an extension. Extensions are granted at the discretion of an NMFS attorney.

In challenging the violation, attorney Patrick Flanigan will request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) in the U.S. Coast Guard. This is followed by a pretrial hearing with the ALJ and NMFS lawyer regarding the Preliminary Position On Issues and Procedures (PPIP). The PPIP mandates a very short timeframe in which the parties may conduct discovery.

The ALJ will next set a hearing on the case. Similar to a trial, the hearing usually lasts a few days and the ALJ will render a decision. If the decision is unfavorable to you, we may file for reconsideration with the ALJ or file a petition for review with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Only after these avenues are exhausted may the client appeal to the federal court.

Why Hire an Attorney

Mistakes made by the NMFS can cost you your livelihood, so it important to work with counsel well-versed in navigating the complex process of challenging NOVA, NOPS or fishing permit violations. Time limits are strict and the failure to act promptly may jeopardize your rights.

The Law Office of Patrick Flanigan represents clients nationwide in commercial fishing and all other types of maritime matters. Contact the firm online or call toll free at 877-275-5191 to schedule your free and confidential initial consultation.

For your convenience, attorney Patrick Flanigan offers evening and weekend consultations. Contingent, hourly and other negotiated fee structures are available and may be customized to your needs.


The Law Office of Patrick Flanigan is a maritime law firm that represents clients nationwide. It serves clients in states along the eastern seaboard including Maryland, Massachusetts (including New Bedford, MA), New York and New Jersey (including Cape May, NJ), as well as Maine (including Portland, ME), Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Connecticut and Rhode Island; and the states of Alaska (including Kodiak Island and Dutch Harbor, AK), Louisiana, Alabama and California.