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CRS: Daily Summary - 3/24/2000 - Longer Friday Version - Part1 of 2]


Steve Gutreuter <[log in to unmask]>


Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>


Fri, 24 Mar 2000 14:11:05 -0600





text/plain (1 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 -- 3/24/2000

New info and changes since 3/17/2000 are bracketed {...}
New info and changes since 3/23/2000 are double-bracketed {{...}}


{{Striped Bass Hearing. On April 28, 2000, the House Resources
on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has scheduled an
field hearing in Toms River, NJ, on reauthorization of the Atlantic
Bass Conservation Act.}} [personal communication]

{{Bering Sea Maritime Boundary. On Mar. 29-30, 2000, U.S. and Russian
officials are scheduled to hold an Inter-governmental Consultative
meeting in Moscow, during which better means to prevent Russian fishing
vessel incursions in to U.S. waters along the Maritime Boundary in the
Bering Sea will be discussed.}} [personal communication]

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
Flora (CITES). [personal communication]

{Adak Small Vessel Fishery? In late-March 2000, the AK Board of
is scheduled to consider a request to close state inshore waters in the
vicinity of Adak Island to fishing vessels longer than 60 feet in length
foster development of a small-vessel fishery and a community to replace
abandoned Adak Naval Air Station. Large trawler operators oppose this
closure as a speculative move that deprives them of access to prime
waters.} [Anchorage Daily News]

Fisheries Budget Hearings. On Mar. 23, 2000, the House Resources
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has
an oversight hearing on the Administration's FY2001 budget request for
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On Mar. 28, 2000, the House Resources
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has
an oversight hearing on the Administration's FY2001 budget request for
[personal communication]

{Horseshoe Crabs. On Mar. 22, 2000, a biomedical company (Associates of
Cape Cod) and a MA horseshoe crab harvester filed suit in U.S. District
Court against the Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, and U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, challenging a ban on horseshoe crab
harvesting at
Cape Cod National Seashore and Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. The
lawsuit is based on the absence of a distinction between those who take
horseshoe crabs for medical purposes without harming them and those who
horseshoe crabs for use as bait.} [Boston Globe, Assoc Press]

{Swordfish. On Mar. 22, 2000, NMFS officials announced the swordfish
directed category quota for the Dec. 1, 1999 through May 31, 2000
fishing period was being increased from 1,016.6 metric tons dressed
(mt dw) to 1,213.7 mt dw, to account for underharvest during the
fishing year. With the increased quota, NMFS projects that no closure
the fishery will be necessary prior to May 31, 2000.} [personal

HI Longline Lawsuit. Mar. 22, 2000 is the end of the 90-day period
which parties to the Leatherback Sea Turtle v. NMFS lawsuit will make
recommendations to change U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra's order.
NMFS analysis of the spatial and temporal distribution of sea turtle and
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
Seattle, WA, to study the productivity of west coast groundfish and to
evaluate the Council's harvest rate policy. The workshop will review
research and recommend changes to existing policies, if needed.
presentations are being solicited by the Council, with manuscripts due
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
should previously unregulated nations, such as Korea, Taiwan, and
decide to join the Commission. [Australian Broadcasting Corp]

{Seabird Bycatch. On Mar. 17, 2000, officials of the U.S. Fish and
Service (FWS) and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission signed
agreement providing $400,000 to assist longline fishing vessels install
seabird deterrent devices to reduce seabird, especially endangered
short-tailed albatross, mortality in the Bering Sea and North Pacific
the Alaskan coast. The longline industry will contribute more than
in cost-sharing toward this effort, resulting in installation of
devices on 36 large freezer longline vessels as well as on half of about
2,000 smaller longline vessels.} [FWS press release]

{Tonga Tuna. On Mar. 17, 2000, the Pacific island nation of Tonga
that it would open its Exclusive Economic Zone for the first time to a
limited number of foreign tuna fishermen. First to take advantage of
opportunity was a Fiji-based Korean company. Permits for Chinese,
and Italian operations were rejected due to a fear of possible damage by
large trawlers.} [Assoc Press]

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

{Iceland ITQ Case. On Mar. 15, 2000, the full 7-judge panel of
Supreme Court heard 5 hours of oral arguments in the Vatneyri case
the lower court ruled that Iceland's individual transferable quota (ITQ)
system fails to provide equal access to a public resource. A ruling is
expected within 4 weeks.} [Iceland Review, personal communication]

Dogfish. On Mar. 15, 2000, Secretary of Commerce William Daley again
delayed implementation of fishing restrictions on spiny dogfish until
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. {{On Mar. 14-16, 2000,
Mid-Atlantic Council approved a restrictive limit of 2.9 million pounds
pounds per trip) while the New England Council, on Mar. 22, 2000,
approved a
limit of 12 million to 15 million pounds (7,000 pounds per trip).
Daley will decided how to treat the differing recommendations.}} [Assoc

Sea Turtle Protection. On Mar. 15, 2000, the Chairman of Pakistan's
Fishermen Cooperative Society reported that a total of about 2,500
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
to reverse an Aug. 19, 1999 Superior Court ruling that had ordered
Gas Transmission System to pay two shellfish companies a total of more
$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
claim of liability. [Assoc Press]

Toothfish Rule. On Mar. 13, 2000, NMFS published proposed regulations
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
harvest and trade in these species. Public comment on the proposed rule
be accepted through Apr. 7, 2000. [Fed. Register, U.S. Dept. of State,
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
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

NC Basking Shark and Sea Turtle Strandings. In the first two weeks of
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
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
an oversight hearing on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Act. [personal communication]

Fishery Disaster Costs. Prior to a congressional hearing on the
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
was reported to have been spent by the federal government since 1994 on
fishery disaster relief, with Congress reportedly considering an
$421 million in such programs. MFCN's point was that poor fishery
management by regional fishery management councils and lax oversight by
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
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
seafood unfit for human consumption, most of it packaged for retail
[Orlando Sentinel]

Wetland Preservation. On Mar. 8, 2000, the National Fisheries Institute
NOAA signed an agreement to help local communities restore polluted
nationwide. A total of $2 million in federal funds will support 83
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.

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

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

Frozen Seafood Patent. On Mar. 6, 2000, the Univ. of ME announced that
had received a patent for a new process to preserve the flavor and
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
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
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
them by a Chicago research firm. Fish was reported to have been named
the number 1 choice of food considered best for improving heart health
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
2000 compared to 22 deaths for the same period in 1998-1999. Some of
may be attributable to the Coast Guard's Operation Safe Catch program,
focuses on identifying high-risk vessels and kipping them in port until
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
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%
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
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
fishing cooperatives. On Mar. 15, 2000, AK Dept. of Fish and Game
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
(ITC), seeking relief from imports that are alleged to be hurting
and processors. The volume of U.S. crabmeat imports was reported to
tripled between 1994 and 1999. The ITC will investigate the situation
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
On Mar. 15, 2000, the National Blue Crab Industry Association held a
congressional staff briefing in Russell Senate Office Bldg. on the
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
Marlin observed a vessel fishing illegally for shrimp in a closed area
St. Petersburg, FL. The vessel was escorted to port, where NMFS agents
it, selling its catch and assuming responsibility for prosecution of the
case. [personal communication]

Sustainable Fishery Designation. On Mar. 3, 2000, the Marine
Council (MSC) announced that the Australian western rock lobster fishery
been awarded MSC accreditation as a sustainable fishery, allowing
of this product to display the MSC's "Fish Forever" logo. Thames
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
in Washington, DC, to discuss the proposed comprehensive U.S. Coral Reef
Action Plan [ ] and its
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
to track coral reef health, and implementing the All-Islands Coral Reef
Initiative. On Mar. 23, 2000, the House Resources Subcommittee on
Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has scheduled markup of H.R. 2903,
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
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
half the Sound's river stations, a doubling of the incidence of liver
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,
2 years, place 10% of Hong Kong waters into fish protection areas,
fishing will be prohibited. The program also involves placing
reefs in protected waters to increase fish habitat. [South China Morning

Habitat Restoration Grants. Mar. 1, 2000 is the deadline for
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
fund community-based projects [ under "community-based restoration" at ] to evaluate and restore
estuarine, and coastal habitat. [personal communication]

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

Native Fishery. On Mar. 1, 2000, Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans
announced that the Canadian federal government would spend C$160 million
over the next 2 years to increase Native participation in commercial
industry. Of this amount, about C$29 million would be spent before Mar.
2000, for buying back commercial licenses for transfer to Native
and for aboriginal training. On Mar. 14, 2000, negotiators for the
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. {{On Mar. 23, 2000,
Canadian federal fisheries officers seized a scallop dragger on Browns
attempting to exercise Native fishing rights. Of the 19 people onboard,
was Native.}} [Canadian Press, National Post, Halifax Herald]

Sharks. On Feb. 29, 2000, the HI state House Judiciary and Hawaiian
Committee approved H.B. 1947, a bill that would require fishermen to
entire blue shark carcasses if finning was contemplated. On Mar. 1,
the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council voted 7-2 to recommend
NMFS limit the annual blue shark harvest in Exclusive Economic Zone
around Pacific islands under U.S. jurisdiction to 50,000 animals as well
a limit of 1 fish per trip for other shark species. {{On Mar. 22, 2000,
NMFS announced that the year 2000's first semiannual commercial fishing
season for large coastal sharks in the western Atlantic would close Mar.
2000, to assure that the quota of 642.5 metric tons was not exceeded.
April 13, 2000, the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries
Wildlife, and Oceans has scheduled a hearing on H.R. 3535, proposing to
shark finning in the Pacific.}} [personal communication, Center for
Conservation press release, Fed. Register, Assoc Press]

New England Groundfish. On Feb. 29, 2000, NMFS officials announced that
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
On Mar. 7, 2000, MA fishermen met with Secretary of Commerce Daley,
changes in proposed January closures to cod fishing in the Gulf of
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
use them sparingly, 3) appropriating $2.5 million for a marketing
and 4) expediting the release of federal funds already approved to
fishermen. [Boston Globe, Assoc Press, Boston Herald, personal

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
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
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
commercial sand and gravel mining operations in U.S. federal waters.
comment will be accepted by MMS through Apr. 10, 2000. On Mar. 11,
MMS held a public hearing in Long Branch, NJ, on the sand mining
[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
is scheduled to meet jointly to review the proposal from the Ad Hoc
Vessel/Headboat Advisory Panel, with the full GMFMC discussing the
on Mar. 22, 2000. {{The new proposal would create 2 classes of permits
charterboats, with Class II permits being non-transferable. In
permits would be renewed only if holders could prove they met certain
requirements annually.}} [Assoc Press, GMFMC press release]

Long Island Sound Lobsters. On Feb. 28, 2000, Clinton Administration
officials were reported to be asking Congress for $10 million in
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]

Japan-China Fishery Agreement. On Feb. 27, 2000, Japanese and Chinese
officials signed an agreement making their November 1997 bilateral
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
agreement was delayed over differences in drawing the zoning line and
conditions of operations in areas under joint control. [Yomiuri Shimbun]

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

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