Stephen Werndli, Enforcement and Emergency Response Coordinator, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Stephen Werndli

Enforcement and Emergency Response Coordinator


Stephen is the enforcement and emergency response coordinator for the sanctuary.  He began managing and protecting natural and cultural resources as a park ranger with the Florida Park Service when he moved to the Florida Keys in 1997, and has worked for the sanctuary since 2002.

He provides coordination, support, and resource trustee information during emergency incidents that injure or threaten injury to sanctuary resources. He provides a critical link between site staff, emergency response and enforcement personnel, as well as general counsel for NOAA and the Department of Justice. His role facilitates the protection and management of sanctuary resources by providing support throughout the process for pursuing natural/cultural resource damage assessment and civil penalty cases, from initial incident response to settlement.

He is also responsible for assisting with the development, implementation, and tracking of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Joint Enforcement Agreement Operations Plans. He supports sanctuary enforcement activities by partnering with other agencies and non-governmental organizations to develop and implement increased enforcement capabilities, testing of technologies, and refinement of needs ensuring efficient and effective enforcement within the sanctuary.

Stephen has responded to and assisted with the coordination of multi-agency responses to incidents including vessel groundings, marine casualties, marine mammal strandings, aircraft crashes, and oil spills, including the Deepwater Horizon incident. He continues to work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement and U.S. Coast Guard Sectors Miami and Key West to plan for, prevent, and respond to pollution events and other incidents threatening the resources of the sanctuary.