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Subject: CRS: Daily Summary - 3/17/2000 - Longer Friday Version - Part 1 of 2
From: From Matt Huggler by way of Peter Hagen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Fish-Sci-request <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 17 Mar 2000 16:14:42 -0900

text/plain (382 lines)

Note to list members: These reports from the  U.S. Congressional
Research Service, are generally posted once a week and are made
available by way of friendly staff in congress.  If you would rather not
see them in your mailbox you can modify your subscription by sending the
command  SET FISH-SCI TOPICS -CRS to [log in to unmask]

Fisheries and Marine Mammals: Most Recent Developments -- 3/17/2000 (updated

New info and changes since 3/10/2000 are bracketed {...}
New info and changes since 3/16/2000 are double-bracketed {{...}}


CITES Hearing.  On Mar. 28, 2000, the House Resources Subcommittee on
Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has scheduled an oversight
hearing on April 2000 meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora (CITES). [personal communication]

Fisheries Budget Hearings.  On Mar. 23, 2000, the House Resources
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has scheduled
an oversight hearing on the Administration's FY2001 budget request for the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  On Mar. 23, 2000, the Senate Appropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary has scheduled a
hearing on NOAA's FY2001 budget request.  On Mar. 28, 2000, the House
Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has
scheduled an oversight hearing on the Administration's FY2001 budget request
for NMFS. [personal communication]

HI Longline Lawsuit.  Mar. 22, 2000 is the end of the 90-day period after
which parties to the Leatherback Sea Turtle v. NMFS lawsuit will make
recommendations to change U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra's order.  An
NMFS analysis of the spatial and temporal distribution of sea turtle and HI
longline vessel interactions is also due to Judge Ezra on Mar. 22, 2000.
[Endangered Species & Wetlands Report]

Pacific Groundfish.  On Mar. 20-24, 2000, the Pacific Fishery Management
Council' Scientific and Statistical Committee has scheduled a workshop in
Seattle, WA, to study the productivity of west coast groundfish and to
evaluate the Council's harvest rate policy.  The workshop will review past
research and recommend changes to existing policies, if needed.  Contributed
presentations are being solicited by the Council, with manuscripts due by
Mar. 20, 2000. [Assoc Press, The World (Coos Bay, OR), personal

{{Southern Bluefin Tuna.  On Mar. 20, 2000, the Commission for the
Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna is scheduled to begin discussing
issues, including quotas and the potential changes that might be necessary
should previously unregulated nations, such as Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia,
decide to join the Commission.}} [Australian Broadcasting Corp]

{{Imitation Shark Skin.  On Mar. 16, 2000, the swimwear manufacturer Speedo
unveiled what it terms a revolutionary swimsuit which is covered in dermal
denticles, mimicking a shark's skin to allow swimmers to glide through the
water 3% faster.}} [The Guardian]

{Dogfish.  On Mar. 15, 2000, Secretary of Commerce William Daley again
delayed implementation of fishing restrictions on spiny dogfish until Mar.
27, 2000, to give the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management
Councils additional time to agree on regulations, with the Mid-Atlantic
Council preferring more restrictive measures.} [Assoc Press]

{Sea Turtle Protection.  On Mar. 15, 2000, the Chairman of Pakistan's
Fishermen Cooperative Society reported that a total of about 2,500 turtle
excluder devices had been installed in 1,776 Pakistani fishing vessels.}
[Frontier Press]

{{Shellfish Damage Lawsuit.  In mid-March 2000, the CT Supreme Court voted
4-1 to reverse an Aug. 19, 1999 Superior Court ruling that had ordered
Iroquois Gas Transmission System to pay two shellfish companies a total of
more than $3.5 million for damage to clam and oyster beds caused by pipeline
construction in 1991.  The majority felt that unambiguous language in an
agreement between the two shellfish companies and Iroquois Gas precluded any
claim of liability.}} [Assoc Press]

{Toothfish Rule.  On Mar. 13, 2000, NMFS published proposed regulations to
revise and strengthen permit requirements for U.S. vessels harvesting or
transshipping Patagonian toothfish and Antarctic toothfish, to implement
U.S. obligations as a party to the Convention for the Conservation of
Antarctic Marine Living Resources in preventing and discouraging unlawful
harvest and trade in these species. Public comment on the proposed rule will
be accepted through Apr. 7, 2000.} [Fed. Register, U.S. Dept. of State, NMFS
press release]

Draft Scup Emergency Rule.  On Mar. 13, 2000, the Atlantic States Marine
Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) anticipates making a Draft Emergency Rule
available for public review and comment to address problems in the summer
period fishery for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass.  This
Emergency Rule proposes to resolve difficulties between the ASMFC's
management system and that of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council so
that harvest quotas are not exceeded.  A total of 5 public hearings is
scheduled for Mar. 21-30, 2000.  The ASMFC's Summer Flounder, Scup, and
Black Sea Bass Management Board is scheduled to take final action on the
Emergency Rule during the ASMFC's Apr. 3-6 meeting. [ASMFC press release].

{{NC Basking Shark and Sea Turtle Strandings.  In the first two weeks of
March 2000, a total of 5 massive basking sharks and 9 sea turtles were
reported to have stranded on NC beaches.  It is unknown whether these
mortalities are related or what may have caused them.}} [MSNBC]

Magnuson-Stevens Act Hearings.  On Mar. 9, 2000, the House Resources
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has scheduled
an oversight hearing on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Act. [personal communication]

Fishery Disaster Costs.  Prior to a congressional hearing on the Magnuson-
Stevens Act on Mar. 9, 2000, the Marine Fish Conservation Network (MFCN)
released a region-by-region accounting of federal funds spent to offset
economic hardship resulting from fishery disasters.  A total of $160 million
was reported to have been spent by the federal government since 1994 on
fishery disaster relief, with Congress reportedly considering an additional
$421 million in such programs.  MFCN's point was that poor fishery
management by regional fishery management councils and lax oversight by NMFS
has led to these disasters and their costs. [Marine Fish Conservation
Network press release, Assoc Press]

Seafood Mishandling.  On Mar. 8, 2000, more than 51,000 pounds of rotting
and contaminated seafood (shrimp, flounder, whiting, lobster tails) was
hauled away from a FL wholesaler's freezers after the FL Dept. of
Agriculture condemned the food and business.  The owner of the wholesale
business was charged with 2 misdemeanors about illegal storage and sale of
seafood unfit for human consumption, most of it packaged for retail sale.
[Orlando Sentinel]

Wetland Preservation.  On Mar. 8, 2000, the National Fisheries Institute and
NOAA signed an agreement to help local communities restore polluted wetlands
nationwide.  A total of $2 million in federal funds will support 83 wetlands
projects. In addition, the fishing industry will identify threatened
wetlands and match federal funds, the federal government will provide
technical expertise, and local communities will provide manual labor. [Assoc

Canadian Groundfish.  On Mar. 8, 2000, the Canadian Dept. of Fisheries and
Oceans closed the cod fishery in Newfoundland's Placentia Bay, on the
recommendation of fishermen concerned that stocks were too small to support
the fishery. [Canadian Press]

ICCAT Advisory Committee Meeting.  On Mar. 6-7, 2000, the Advisory Committee
to the U.S. Section to the International Commission for the Conservation of
Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is scheduled to meet in Silver Spring, MD. [personal

Frozen Seafood Patent.  On Mar. 6, 2000, the Univ. of ME announced that it
had received a patent for a new process to preserve the flavor and texture
of seafood when it is frozen.  This process, involving the injection of
sugar-based compounds, has been used on lobsters and may be used for other
types of seafood. [Assoc Press]

Italian Driftnets.  On Mar. 6, 2000, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is
scheduled to hear oral arguments on the lawsuit by the Humane Society of the
United States, challenging President Clinton's decision not to impose
driftnet sanctions on Italy. [personal communication]

Nutritional Survey.  In early March 2000, Quaker Oats Co. released the
results of a survey of 525 registered dieticians nationwide, conducted for
them by a Chicago research firm.  Fish was reported to have been named as
the number 1 choice of food considered best for improving heart health by
88% of the dieticians. [Knight Ridder]

{Fishing Vessel Safety.  In early March 2000, the Coast Guard reported a
decrease in lives lost at sea, with a decline to 7 deaths for Dec 1999-Feb
2000 compared to 22 deaths for the same period in 1998-1999.  Some of this
may be attributable to the Coast Guard's Operation Safe Catch program, which
focuses on identifying high-risk vessels and kipping them in port until they
are repaired.} [Assoc Press]

E-Commerce for Seafood.  In early March 2000, CMGI, Inc. (Andover, MA)
announced a $12 million venture capital investment in online
seafood marketplace. [Boston Globe]

{SA Fisheries Crisis.  In early March 2000, four of the 5 members of South
Africa's Fisheries Transformation Council resigned over a pay dispute,
leaving the Fisheries Dept. in chaos amid accusations of corruption and
mismanagement.  The Dept. has not allocated longline hake quotas and 50% of
the pilchard/anchovy harvest.} [South Africa Press Assoc]

Bering Sea Crab Fishery.  In early March 2000, nearly 100 crab vessel
owners, processors, skippers, and other interested parties attended a
meeting in Seattle, WA to determine how to deal with overcapitalization of
the Bering Sea crab fleet.  This group decided to form a committee of 13
industry members to develop a proposal for  vessel buybacks to take to
Congress.  A separate committee of 21 members will consider a proposal for
fishing cooperatives.  {On Mar. 15, 2000, AK Dept. of Fish and Game
officials announced that Bering Sea ice had retreated sufficiently that
commercial snow crab harvesting would be allowed to begin Apr. 1, 2000.}
[Anchorage Daily News]

Blue Crab Imports.  On Mar. 3, 2000, the National Blue Crab Industry
Association filed a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission
(ITC), seeking relief from imports that are alleged to be hurting fishermen
and processors.  The volume of U.S. crabmeat imports was reported to have
tripled between 1994 and 1999.  The ITC will investigate the situation and
make a recommendation to the President.  A major concern is the importing of
crabmeat labeled to give the incorrect impression that it is blue crab meat.
{On Mar. 15, 2000, the National Blue Crab Industry Association held a
congressional staff briefing in Russell Senate Office Bldg. on the current
situation with the domestic blue crab industry, including marketing
promotion and import relief efforts.} [Carteret News-Times, personal

Illegal Shrimping.  On Mar. 3, 2000, personnel from the Coast Guard Cutter
Marlin observed a vessel fishing illegally for shrimp in a closed area off
St. Petersburg, FL.  The vessel was escorted to port, where NMFS agents met
it, selling its catch and assuming responsibility for prosecution of the
case. [personal communication]

Sustainable Fishery Designation.  On Mar. 3, 2000, the Marine Stewardship
Council (MSC) announced that the Australian western rock lobster fishery had
been awarded MSC accreditation as a sustainable fishery, allowing packages
of this product to display the MSC's "Fish Forever" logo.  Thames herring
are also reported to be certified, and AK salmon is being evaluated.
[personal communication, Assoc Press]

Coral Reef Protection.  On Mar. 2, 2000, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force  met
in Washington, DC, to discuss the proposed comprehensive U.S. Coral Reef
Action Plan [ ] and its implementation,
responding to President Clinton's Executive Order 13089.  One of their
proposals, setting aside 20% of U.S. coral reefs as "no-take marine
ecological reserves" by 2010, has generated significant concern among
commercial fishermen in the FL Keys.  Other elements of the Action Plan
include mapping all U.S. coral reefs by 2009, creating a monitoring system
to track coral reef health, and implementing the All-Islands Coral Reef
Initiative.  On Mar. 23, 2000, the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries
Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has scheduled markup of H.R. 2903, the
Coral Reef Conservation and Restoration Act of 1999. [personal
communication, White House press release]

Puget Sound Pollution.  On Mar. 1, 2000, the Puget Sound Water Quality
Action Team (a subagency of the WA Governor's Office) released a 16-report
tracking the health of the Puget Sound ecosystem.  The Sound was reported as
improving in control of invasive species, opening of shellfish beds to
harvest, and reducing concentrations of industrial contaminants such as
PCBs.  Continuing problems include high fecal coliform counts in more than
half the Sound's river stations, a doubling of the incidence of liver tumors
in English sole in Elliott Bay, and declining populations of a number of
fish and wildlife species.  A more-detailed version of the report is
scheduled for release in late March 2000. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

Marine Fish Protection Areas.  On Mar. 1, 2000, officials of Hong Kong's
Agriculture and Fisheries Department announced a government plan to, within
2 years,  place 10% of Hong Kong waters into fish protection areas, where
fishing will be prohibited.  The program also involves placing artificial
reefs in protected waters to increase fish habitat. [South China Morning

Habitat Restoration Grants.  Mar. 1, 2000 is the deadline for applications
for the Five Star Challenge Grants Program, while Mar. 6., 2000 is the
deadline for application to the American Sportfishing Association's
FishAmerica Foundation grants. Under a partnership with NMFS, these grants
fund community-based projects [ under "community-based restoration" at ] to evaluate and restore marine,
estuarine, and coastal habitat. [personal communication]

Invasive Species.  On Mar. 1, 2000, the CA Academy of Sciences announced the
beginning of "San Francisco Bay: Y2K" -- a 4-year effort to comprehensively
survey Bay fauna and identify non-native species. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Native Fishery.  On Mar. 1, 2000, Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans officials
announced that the Canadian federal government would spend C$160 million
over the next 2 years to increase Native participation in commercial fishing
industry.  Of this amount, about C$29 million would be spent before Mar. 31,
2000, for buying back commercial licenses for transfer to Native fishermen
and for aboriginal training.  {On Mar. 14, 2000, negotiators for the Burnt
Church First Nation walked out on talks with federal officials, and were
reportedly preparing to go fishing in defiance of Canadian federal
management.  Much of the disagreement surrounds the right to fish for
subsistence outside of commercial open seasons.} [Canadian Press, National
Post, Halifax Herald]

Sharks.  On Feb. 29, 2000, the HI state House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs
Committee approved H.B. 1947, a bill that would require fishermen to land
entire blue shark carcasses if finning was contemplated.  On Mar. 1, 2000,
the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council voted 7-2 to recommend that
NMFS limit the annual blue shark harvest in Exclusive Economic Zone waters
around Pacific islands under U.S. jurisdiction to 50,000 animals as well as
a limit of 1 fish per trip for other shark species. [ASMFC press release,
personal communication, Center for Marine Conservation press release, Fed.
Register, Assoc Press]

Shrimp Bycatch Reduction.  On Feb. 28-Mar. 1, 2000, the Gulf of Mexico
Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) held additional public workshops to
receive comments on the need for additional bycatch reduction requirements
for the shrimp fishery south and east of Cape San Blas, FL. [GMFMC press

Offshore Sand and Gravel Mining.  On Feb. 28 and 29, 2000, the Minerals
Management Service (MMS, Dept. of the Interior) held information meetings on
a request by a private excavating company that MMS hold a lease sale for 100
square miles of seafloor tracts on which the company would mine sand and
gravel off Monmouth County, NJ.  If granted, these leases would be the first
commercial sand and gravel mining operations in U.S. federal waters. Public
comment will be accepted by MMS through Apr. 10, 2000.  {{On Mar. 11, 2000,
MMS held a public hearing in Long Branch, NJ, on the sand mining proposal.}}
[Asbury Park Press, Fed. Register, Assoc Press]

Charterboat Moratorium.  The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's
(GMFMC's) Ad Hoc Charter Vessel/Headboat Advisory Panel met Feb. 28-29,
2000, in Tampa, FL, to develop recommendations on a proposed 3-year
moratorium on new charterboat fishing permits.  On Mar. 20, 2000, in San
Antonio, TX, the Reef Fish and Mackerel Management Committees of the GMFMC
will meet jointly to review the proposel from the Ad Hoc Charter
Vessel/Headboat Advisory Panel, with the full GMFMC discussing the proposal
on Mar. 22, 2000. [Assoc Press, GMFMC press release]

Japan-China Fishery Agreement.  On Feb. 27, 2000, Japanese and Chinese
officials signed an agreement making their November 1997 bilateral fishery
agreement for the East China Sea effective in June 2000.  Under the
agreement, a free fisheries zone allow boats of both countries to fish
without prior approval, Japan will allow 600 Chinese fishing vessels
annually to fish in the Japanese EEZ, and China will allow 317 Japanese
fishing vessels annually to fish in the Chinese EEZ.  Implementation of the
agreement was delayed over differences in drawing the zoning line and over
conditions of operations in areas under joint control. [Yomiuri Shimbun]

Lobster Games?  In late February 2000, protests by the Japan Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals forced several game arcades to remove
"Submarine Catcher" arcade games, wherein a "maneuver-the-crane-and- catch"
mechanism allows players to capture live lobsters and other sea creatures.
This game was introduced into the Japanese arcade market earlier in February
2000, with 100 game machines sold immediately and orders placed for an
additional 200 machines. [Yomiuri Shimbun]

Shrimp and TEDs.  In late February 2000, marine extension agents with the TX
Marine Advisory Service announced that they have developed a solution to a
design flaw in turtle excluder devices (TEDs) used in shrimp trawls.  By
replacing traditional nylon netting with stronger high-density polyethylene
netting, stretching is minimized, keeping the shrimp trawl grill in proper
alignment and reducing shrimp loss. [TX Sea Grant press release]

Long Island Sound Lobsters.  In late February 2000, the CT congressional
delegation was reported to have asked the Administration for $40 million to
$50 million to provide assistance to lobstermen and fund research.  On Feb.
28, 2000, the Administration was reported to be asking Congress for $10
million in assistance for this fishery - $6.6 million for research into
causes of the recent die-off and $3.4 million for economic development
initiatives for the lobster industry. [Assoc Press, Dept. of Commerce press

Saltonstall-Kennedy Grants.  On Feb. 25, 2000, NMFS published a notice of
the FY2001 proposed scope and funding priorities for the Saltonstall-Kennedy
Grant Program.  Public comment is accepted through Mar. 13, 2000. [Fed.

New England Groundfish.  On Feb. 23, 2000, personnel from the Coast Guard
Cutter Adak observed 2 trawlers fishing illegally inside Restricted Gear
Area 2, south of Long Island.  Both vessels were escorted to New Bedford,
MA, where NMFS seized and auctioned their catch and initiated prosecution.
On Feb. 29, 2000, NMFS officials announced that a New Bedford trawler and
crew had been issued sanctions including an agreement to sell the trawler
and loss of the right to fish in federal waters for 4 years for fishing with
illegally modified gear in August 1998.  On Mar. 7, 2000, MA fishermen met
with Secretary of Commerce Daley, seeking changes in proposed January
closures to cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine, beginning in 2001.  The
fishermen's 4- point proposal included 1) allowing 7 days of fishing during
January, 2) buying back fishing permits of those who use them sparingly, 3)
appropriating $2.5 million for a marketing program, and 4) expediting the
release of federal funds already approved to assist fishermen. [Boston
Globe, Assoc Press, Boston Herald, personal communication]

Herring Limited Entry.  On Feb. 22-29, 2000, the Atlantic States Marine
Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the New England Fishery Management Council
have scheduled a series of 4 joint scoping hearings to gather public comment
on the issue of controlled access (limited entry) in the Atlantic herring
fishery.  Concern focuses on the Gulf of Maine, where reported landings 1996
and 1997 exceeded the total allowable catch (TAC) by a substantial amount.
[ASMFC press release]

Mud Dump.  On Feb. 22, 2000, the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries
Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans held an oversight field hearing in Toms
River, NJ, to examine the effects on living marine resources from material
deposited in the NY Bight area. [Assoc Press, personal communication]

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