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CRS: Daily Summary - 4/14/2000 - Longer Friday Summary - Part 1 of 2


Peter Hagen <[log in to unmask]>


Fish-Sci-request <[log in to unmask]>


Mon, 17 Apr 2000 08:12:41 -0800





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]

NOTE: No summary will be prepared or distributed on Apr. 17-19, 2000.

Fisheries and Marine Mammals: Most Recent Developments -- 4/14/2000 (updated

New info and changes since 4/7/2000 are bracketed {...}
New info and changes since 4/13/2000 are double-bracketed {{...}}


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]

{Mackerel. On May 2-3, 2000, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management
Council's (GMFMC's) Mackerel Advisory Panel and the Standing and Special
Mackerel Scientific and Statistical Committees will meet in Tampa, FL, to
review assessment information on king mackerel stocks and recommend to the
Council possible changes to federal regulations affecting mackerels.} [GMFMC
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]

{{Illegal Shrimping. On Apr. 12, 2000, FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission officers seized two AL shrimp vessels illegally fishing within
the Tortugas shrimp sanctuary. More than 8 tons of shrimp aboard the
vessels was sold, with the proceeds to be held in escrow until the court
hears this case.}} [Miami Herald]

{Fisheries Enforcement Killings. On Apr. 11, 2000, three Cambodian fishery
enforcement officers were killed by a mob of about 30 fishermen after the
officers confiscated banned nets fished illegally at night in an early
morning raid on the Tonle Sap River, north of Phnom Penh. Five fishermen
were captured by coastguard patrol officers. Tension has increased since
local villages depend heavily on fishing while the government seeks to halt
fish stock depletion.} [South China Morning Post]

{Oyster and Clam Poaching. On Apr. 11, 2000, four CT commercial
shellfishermen were arrested and charged with misdemeanors for poaching
clams and oysters from beds where they were not authorized to fish.} [Assoc

{MSFCMA Field Hearing. On Apr. 10, 2000, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee
on Oceans and Fisheries held a field hearing in Boston, MA, on
reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management
Act.} [Boston Herald]

{Bering Sea Crab Fishery. On Apr. 8, 2000, the Bering Sea snow crab fishery
closed after a harvest of about 30 million pounds against a quota of 26.4
million pounds. Fishermen are arguing that stock assessment surveys were
flawed and have petitioned Secretary of Commerce William Daley to have the
season reopened.} [Anchorage Daily News]

{{Canadian Groundfish. On Apr. 7, 2000, officials of the Dept. of Fisheries
and Oceans announced that surveys indicated little or no growth in cod
stocks off the north coast of Newfoundland for almost 20 years.}} [Canadian

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]

{GAO Report. On Apr. 6, 2000, the General Accounting Office released a new
report to Congress (RCED-00-69) entitled "Problems Remain With National
Marine Fisheries Service's Implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act." GAO
faults NMFS for basing actions on outdated and incomplete data, for not
giving sufficient attention to determining how best to minimize the effects
of conservation and management measures on fishing communities, and for
overly broad designations of essential fish habitat. GAO recommends actions
that might be taken to address these concerns.} [GAO report RCED- 00-69]

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]

{Sharks and Cancer. In an early April 2000 news conference at the annual
meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, scientists from The
Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University presented a
detailed history of benign and malignant tumors found in sharks and related
fishes. This refutes claims by promoters of shark cartilage as a cancer
cure or preventative that sharks never get cancer.} [Science Daily]

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. {{On Apr.
13, 2000, federal Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal announced that snow crab
harvest quotas would be reduced by an average of 25%.}} [Canadian Press]

New England Groundfish. 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. [personal

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. {{On Apr. 14, 2000,
another Mexican lancha was located by the Coast Guard Cutter Knight Island
fishing illegally in U.S. waters, and was seized by Coast Guard Station
South Padre Island personnel, to be prosecuted by the TX Dept. of Parks and
Wildlife.}} [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.
{{On Apr. 13, 2000, the Coast Guard published voluntary guidelines on
recreational activities (e.g., boating and fishing) to control the spread of
zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species. Public comment will be
accepted through June 12, 2000.}} [personal communication, UMRCC press
release, New York Times, Fed. Register]

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]

Sea Turtle Protection. 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, MSNBC]

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

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]

Coral Reef Protection. On Mar. 23, 2000, the House Resources Subcommittee
on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans marked-up H.R. 2903, the
Coral Reef Conservation and Restoration Act of 1999. [personal
communication, White House press release]

Native Fishery. 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]

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

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]

Dogfish. The New England Council, on Mar. 22, 2000, approved a limit of 12
million to 15 million pounds of dogfish (7,000 pounds per trip). Secretary
Daley will decided how to treat the differing recommendations between this
Council and the Mid-Atlantic Council. 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]

Sharks. 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. {On Apr. 12, 2000, NMFS published notice of receipt
of a petition for rulemaking to prohibit shark finning and require full
utilization of sharks in waters under the authority of the Western Pacific
Fishery Management Council.} [personal communication, Center for Marine
Conservation press release, Fed. Register, Assoc Press]

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]

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]

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