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Subject:

CRS: Daily Summary - 4/7/2000 - Longer Friday Version - Part 1 of 2

From:

Steve Gutreuter <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Fri, 7 Apr 2000 16:01:39 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

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 -- 4/7/2000
(updated
daily)


New info and changes since 3/31/2000 are bracketed {...}


MARINE FISHERIES

Lobster Stock Assessment. On May 8-9, 2000, the Atlantic States Marine
Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will meet in Warwick, RI, to conduct an
external (independent) peer review of the most recent American lobster
stock
assessment, to examine the quantity and quality of data used in the
models,
to examine the appropriateness of the models chosen to assess the
population, and to evaluate the status of the stock. The final stock
assessment will be presented to the ASMFC at its June 2000 meeting.
[ASMFC
press release]

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

{{MHLC. On Apr. 12-19, 2000, the Multilateral High-Level Conference on
the
conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks in the
Central
and Western Pacific will convene in Honolulu, HI, for a final
negotiating
session before an agreement is presented for signing in August 2000.}}
[personal communication]

Long Island Sound Lobsters. In early April 2000, five CT lobstermen's
groups are scheduled to begin participating in studies to determine what
is
killing Long Island Sound lobsters by collecting dead lobsters and
sediment
for testing. The $75,000 to $100,000 cost of the testing will be paid
by a
NY- based fisheries conservation group. Test results are anticipated by
mid-May 2000. [Assoc Press]

{{Bluefin Tuna Angling. On Apr. 7, 2000, NMFS requested comment on
relocating the line, currently at Delaware Bay, that divides northern
and
southern management areas for bluefin tuna angling quotas and seasons.
Public comment is to be accepted through May 22, 2000. [NMFS press
release]

{Coastal Pollution. On Apr. 4, 2000, the National Research Council's
Committee on the Causes and Management of Coastal Eutrophication
released
the report "Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects
of
Nutrient Pollution" that discusses the problem of coastal pollution from
nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers and related algal blooms. Severe
problem areas are cited in 9 states: WA, CA, LA, TX, FL, NC, MD, NY, and
MA.} [Assoc Press, NAS press release]

Bering Sea Maritime Boundary. On Mar. 29-30, 2000, U.S. and Russian
officials are scheduled to hold an Inter-governmental Consultative
Committee
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]

Grouper Violations. On Mar. 28-30, 2000, NMFS and the SC Dept. of
Natural
Resources closed a 6-month cooperative undercover investigation
(Operation
Blue Water) with the arrest of 5 commercial fishermen on multiple
violations, including unlawful sale without a dealer's license, unlawful
possession and sale of undersize grouper, and criminal conspiracy.
[Myrtle
Beach Sun News]

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]

Federal Fisheries Financial Assistance. On Mar. 27, 2000, NMFS
announced
the availability of $23.7 million in loans, prioritized for 1) fishing
capacity reduction, 2) supporting the existing FFP credit portfolio
through
loan refinancing, etc., 3) about $10 million in backlogged FY1999
applications, and 4) marine and closed system aquaculture. If the
entire
$23.7 million is not allocated among these priorities by Apr. 17, 2000,
non-priority purposes will be funded (e.g., land-based aquaculture in
open
systems, fisheries shoreside facilities, and fishing vessels). In
addition,
$5 million is available for loans to purchase halibut and sablefish
individual fishing quota (IFQ). However, since the backlog of
application
for IFQ loans exceeds the $5 million available, no new applications for
IFQ
loans will be accepted. [Fed. Register]

Maritime Snow Crab. On Mar. 27, 2000, an internal memorandum of
Canada's
Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans was alleged to have warned that snow crab
stocks between Labrador and the Grand Banks are in serious trouble and
could
be depleted commercially within 3 years. The scheduled Apr. 1 opening
of
the crab fishery may be delayed while federal Fisheries Minister Herb
Dhaliwal makes a decision on whether to reduce harvest quotas. [Canadian
Press]

Adak Small Vessel Fishery? In late-March 2000, the AK Board of
Fisheries 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
to
foster development of a small-vessel fishery and a community to replace
the
abandoned Adak Naval Air Station. Large trawler operators oppose this
closure as a speculative move that deprives them of access to prime
fishing
waters. [Anchorage Daily News]

Mexican Lanchas. On Mar. 25, 2000, a Coast Guard helicopter detected 4
Mexican lanchas illegally fishing in TX waters north of the U.S./Mexican
border. One of the 4 lanchas was seized, with gillnet gear, illegally
harvested fish, and 3 crew turned over to the TX Dept. of Parks and
Wildlife
for prosecution. {{On Apr. 6, 2000, the Coast Guard Cutter Knight
Island
assisted by Coast Guard Station South Padre Island personnel located and
seized a Mexican lancha illegally fishing north of the U.S./Mexican
border.
The lancha, gillnet gear, illegally harvested fish, and 2 crew were
turned
over to TX Dept. of Parks and Wildlife for prosecution.}} [personal
communication]

Invasive Species. On Mar. 24, 2000, WA Governor Gary Locke signed
Substitute HB2466 into state law, specifying ballast water management
measures for ships operating in WA state waters. {{In late March 2000,
more
than 200 biologists and managers from the Upper Mississippi River
Conservation Committee (UMRCC) and the Lower Mississippi River
Conservation
Committee met in Cape Girardeau, MO, to discuss management issues,
including
damage of invasive species upon native organisms. Concerns include the
delay in construction of an electronic barrier to slow the spread of
round
goby from the Great Lakes into the Mississippi River basin and the
increasing use of Asian black carp to control snail infestations in
catfish
growing ponds in MS. The Apr. 1, 2000 issue of Environmental Science
and
Technology contains an article reporting that zebra mussels are
consuming so
much dissolved oxygen from the Hudson River that much of the ecosystem
is
approaching a danger point at which other aquatic life will flee or
die.}}
[personal communication, UMRCC press release, New York Times]

Geoduck Dumping. On Mar. 24, 2000, officials of 5 WA tribes met to
consider
a report by the WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife detailing the illegal
dumping
of almost 35 tons of geoduck clams in Hood Canal by members of the
Skokomish
tribe during 1999, in a effort to "high-grade" their harvest by dumping
lesser-quality clams. Skokomish officials report new monitoring and
compliance efforts to preclude similar problems this year and have
verbally
agreed to reduce this year's harvest quota as compensation. [Assoc
Press]

King Mackerel Health Warning. On Mar. 23, 2000, NC officials issued a
state
health advisory urging consumers to limit or avoid consumption of large
king
mackerel, because of possible high mercury concentration. [Carteret
News-Times]

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

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
to extract their blood for medical purposes (killing perhaps 10%) and
those
who kill horseshoe crabs for use as bait. {{On Mar. 31, 2000, two DE
men
were found guilty in Federal District Court (Wilmington) of misdemeanor
violations of the Lacey Act for illegal horseshoe crab harvesting.
Crabs
illegally harvested in DE were transported to VA for sale. Sentencing
is
scheduled for late June 2000.}} {On Apr. 4, 2000, the Horseshoe Crab
Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
(ASMFC)
approved state plans for MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, DE, and MD, implementing
ASMFC
horseshoe crab landing reduction guidelines. De minimus status was
granted
to ME, NH, PA, DC, NC, SC, GA, and FL. VA's proposed management
measures
were not approved as they exceeded the required landings cap. NMFS also
reported to the Board that it would be proposing the designation of an
offshore horseshoe crab sanctuary just outside Delaware Bay, with public
hearing during the summer of 2000 and promulgation of a final rule by
late
fall 2000. On Apr. 5, 2000, the ASMFC's Interstate Fisheries Management
Program Policy Board recommended that VA be found out-of-compliance with
the
required landings cap provision for horseshoe crab. The ASMFC is
scheduled
to take action on the out-of- compliance recommendation at its June 2000
meeting in Portland, ME.} [Boston Globe, Assoc Press, ASMFC press
release,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release]

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

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]

Charterboat Moratorium. On Mar. 20, 2000, in San Antonio, TX, the Reef
Fish
and Mackerel Management Committees of the GMFMC was scheduled to meet
jointly to review a new proposal concerning a 3-year moratorium on new
charterboat fishing permits from the Ad Hoc Charter Vessel/Headboat
Advisory
Panel, with the full GMFMC discussing the proposal on Mar. 22, 2000.
The
new proposal would create 2 classes of permits for charterboats, with
Class
II permits being non-transferable. In addition, permits would be
renewed
only if holders could prove they met certain income requirements
annually.
[Assoc Press, GMFMC press release]

Seabird Bycatch. On Mar. 17, 2000, officials of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife
Service (FWS) and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission signed
an
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
off
the Alaskan coast. The longline industry will contribute more than
$600,000
in cost-sharing toward this effort, resulting in installation of
deterrent
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
announced
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
this
opportunity was a Fiji-based Korean company. Permits for Chinese,
Canadian,
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
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]]

Iceland ITQ Case. On Mar. 15, 2000, the full 7-judge panel of Iceland's
Supreme Court heard 5 hours of oral arguments in the Vatneyri case
wherein
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
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. On Mar. 14-16, 2000, the
Mid-
Atlantic Council approved a restrictive limit of 2.9 million pounds (300
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).
Secretary
Daley will decided how to treat the differing recommendations. On Mar.
30,
2000, Secretary Daley announced a third delay in implementing fishing
restrictions on spiny dogfish, with a new deadline of Apr. 3, 2000. {On
Apr. 5, 2000, Secretary of Commerce William Daley announced the quota
for
dogfish would be 4 million pounds, with trip limits of 600 pounds
between
May 1 and Oct. 1, 2000, decreasing to 300 pound between Nov. 1, 2000 and
Apr. 30, 2001. The projected harvest for the current fishing year,
ending
Apr. 30, 2000, is 22 million pounds.} [Assoc Press, Center for Marine
Conservation press release]

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.
On
Mar. 24, 2000, U.S. District Court Judge Anne C. Conway ruled that
Volusia
County, FL, cannot be held liable for sea turtle deaths when private
businesses and homeowners violate a county ordinance that restricts
lighting
near beaches. Judge Conway anticipates issuing a separate order on the
validity of an agreement between the county and the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife
Service allowing driving on county beaches in exchange for other
protective
measures. On Mar. 29, 2000, five FL aquariums released 30 endangered
Kemp's
ridley sea turtles into the Atlantic Ocean at Canaveral National
Seashore.
These animals were part of the 277 turtles who survived a mass stranding
of
323 turtles on Cape Cod during November and December 1999 and were
rehabilitated by various East Coast aquariums. {On Apr. 3, 2000, NMFS
asked
shrimp trawlers operating in waters within 10 miles of the coast between
Cape Canaveral, FL and the NC/VA border to modify turtle excluder
devices
(TEDs) so that leatherback sea turtles would not be harmed. These
turtles
are currently on their annual northward spring migration along the
coast.
Areas where turtles are noted in high density will be closed to
shrimpers
who are not using the modified TEDs.} [Assoc Press, Frontier Press,
MSNBC]

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].

Offshore Sand and Gravel Mining. On Mar. 11, 2000, the Minerals
Management
Service (MMS, Dept. of the Interior) held a public hearing in Long
Branch,
NJ, 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. [Asbury Park Press, Fed. Register,
Assoc
Press]

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
Press]

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]

New England Groundfish. 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. On Mar. 26-27, 2000,
personnel
of the Coast Guard Cutters Chinook and Wrangell detected and seized two
fishing vessels for alleged illegal fishing within Closed Area One. The
vessels' catch of more than 30,000 pounds of haddock were auctioned,
with
the auction proceeds held in escrow until NMFS determines possible
prosecution. [Boston Globe, Assoc Press, Boston Herald, personal
communication]

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
communication]

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 GoFish.com 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
communication]

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 [ http://coralreef.gov/WG-reports.html ] 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
Post]

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
http://www.nmfs.gov/habitat/restoration ] 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. On Mar. 23, 2000,
Canadian
federal fisheries officers seized a scallop dragger on Browns Bank
attempting to exercise Native fishing rights. Of the 19 people onboard,
one
was Native. On Mar. 26, 2000, federal officials announced that they
would
impose a fishing plan on any of the 34 Native bands that failed to sign
an
interim management agreement with the Canadian federal government. Thus
far, only 3 bands have negotiated agreements. As of Mar. 30, 2000,
another
9 interim agreements had been reached in principle, but were not yet
signed.
Retirement (buyback) offers have been received involving 4,500 licenses,
of
which Ottawa has purchased 82 packages representing 259 licenses and 27
vessels. {{As of Apr. 5, 2000, agreements had been concluded with 6
bands.}} [Canadian Press, National Post, Halifax Herald]

Sharks. 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. 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. 31, 2000, to assure that the quota of
642.5 metric tons was not exceeded. On Mar. 28, 2000, NMFS announced
that a
draft U.S. National Plan of Action (NPOA) to implement the United
Nations
International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of
Sharks
is tentatively scheduled to be available for public review in June
2000. On
April 13, 2000, the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries
Conservation,
Wildlife, and Oceans has scheduled a hearing on H.R. 3535, proposing to
ban
shark finning in the Pacific. [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
release]

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