PDF _ IB10109 - Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Legislation in the 108th Congress
7-Jan-2005; Eugene H. Buck; 19 p.

Update: April 12, 2005

MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

On December 17, 2004, the Bush Administration released its ¨Oceans Action Plan¨ responding to recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. On December 10, 2004, President Bush signed P.L. 108-456, amending and reauthorizing the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act through FY2008. On December 8, 2004, President Bush signed P.L. 108-447, in which separate provisions (1) authorized capacity reduction funding for the Southeast Alaska purse seine salmon fishery ($50 million; §209, Division B), the Gulf of Mexico reef fish longline fishery ($35 million; §218, Division B), the Bering Sea Aleutian Island non-pollock groundfish fishery ($75 million; §219(b), Division B), the U.S. distant water tuna fleet ($40 million; Fisheries Finance Program Account, Division B), and the menhaden fishery ($19 million; Fisheries Finance Program Account, Division B); (2) increased coordination of interagency ocean science programs, including U.S. research and monitoring programs related to seafood safety and identified hypoxia and harmful algal blooms as important in addressing the role of oceans in human health (Title IX, Division B); and (3) established a Nez Perce Tribe Water and Fisheries Fund and a Salmon and Clearwater River Basins Habitat Fund to protect and restore ESA-listed fish (§§8-9, Title X, Division J). On December 3, 2004, President Bush signed P.L. 108-429, in which §2004(e) amends the Andean Trade Preference Act to modify the definition of ?United States vessel? relative to tuna harvesting. On November 21, 2004, the Senate passed S. 2488 (amended), proposing to authorize a NOAA program to address marine debris, with particular emphasis on reducing and preventing commercial fishing gear loss. (Members and staff may request e-mail notification of new CRS reports on marine and freshwater fisheries, aquaculture, and marine mammal issues by contacting Gene Buck at gbuck@crs.loc.gov and requesting to be added to his notification list.)

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Abstract: Fish and marine mammals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas. Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. Many laws and regulations guide the management of these resources by federal agencies.

Reauthorization of major legislation ? the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) ? will likely be on the agenda of the 108th Congress, since the authorization of appropriations for both laws expired at the end of FY1999.

In the 108th Congress, P.L. 108-7 created a West Coast Groundfish Fishing Capacity Reduction Program, directed NOAA Fisheries to establish a Regional Office for the Pacific Area, required increased legal and fiscal accountability for Pacific salmon recovery, and provided $100 million in fishery disaster funding. P.L. 108-11 directed the Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate regulations allowing wild seafood to be certified or labeled as organic. P.L. 108-136 reauthorized the Sikes Act through FY2008 and authorized certain vessels for use as artificial reefs. P.L. 108-199 rationalized certain Alaska crab fisheries and instituted processor quotas. P.L. 108-219 reauthorized the Yukon River Salmon Act through FY2008. P.L. 108-287 made Department of Defense Buy American requirements permanently inapplicable to the procurement of fish, shellfish, and seafood. P.L. 108-293 increased consultation on fishery law enforcement. Thus far, H.R. 4706, S. 482, and S. 2066 have been introduced to reauthorize and comprehensively amend the MSFCMA.

Aquaculture ? the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals and plants in a controlled environment ? is expanding rapidly, both in the United States and abroad. In the United States, important species cultured include catfish, salmon, shellfish, and trout. In the 108th Congress, P.L. 108-293 authorized interim assistance to aquaculture operators awaiting the recovery of damages for oil spill injuries.

Marine mammals are protected under the MMPA, which authorizes restricted use (¨take¨) of marine mammals. It addresses specific situations of concern, such as dolphin mortality, which is primarily associated with the eastern tropical Pacific tuna fishery. In the 108th Congress, P.L. 108-7 directed the Department of Commerce to evaluate and document foreign compliance with the International Dolphin Conservation Program. P.L. 108-108 modified the MMPA to permit the importation of polar bears harvested prior to the enactment of final regulations. P.L. 108- 136 modified the MMPA's definition of harassment and provisions relating to taking marine mammals as they relate to military readiness activities and federal scientific research. P.L. 108-293 required studies of routing options to reduce vessel strikes on North Atlantic right whales. Thus far, H.R. 2693 and H.R. 3316 are the only bills introduced to reauthorize and comprehensively amend the MMPA; H.R. 2693 was reported by the House Committee on Resources on April 20, 2004.

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Topics: Marine, Water, Legislative

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