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CRS: Daily Summary - 4/21/2000 - Longer Friday Version - Part 1 of 2


Peter Hagen <[log in to unmask]>


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


Mon, 24 Apr 2000 11:38:07 -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]

Fisheries and Marine Mammals: Most Recent Developments -- 4/21/2000 (updated

New info and changes since 4/14/2000 are bracketed {...}
New info and changes since 4/20/2000 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

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]

{{Coral Protection. On Apr. 18, 2000, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. went scuba
diving at Vieques, Puerto Rico. On Apr. 17, 2000, he had announced that the
Natural Resources Defense Council would be filing a lawsuit against the Navy
to stop military exercises and protect coral reefs.}} [Assoc Press]

{{Iceland ITQ Case. In mid-April 2000, Iceland's Supreme Court announced it
verdict, having voted 4-3 to overturn a lower court judgment and found 3
fishermen who fished without quota shares, guilty of fishing illegally. The
ruling made clear that fish stocks are the property of the Icelandic nation
as a whole, and that allocated fishing quotas do not constitute ownership.}}
[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

{Pelagic Longlining. On Apr. 10, 2000, NMFS announced that implementation
of a vessel monitoring system (VMS) required for Atlantic pelagic longline
fishermen was being delayed from June 1, 2000, until September 1, 2000.}
[personal communication]

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

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. {On Apr. 17-18, 2000, scientists and environmentalists held a
lobster health symposium in Stamford, CT, to review progress and develop an
action plan for identifying the cause of Long Island Sound lobster
mortalities.} [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]

Horseshoe Crabs. 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]

Dogfish. 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]

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]

Sharks. 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. {On Apr. 18, 2000, delegates to the Conference of
Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) rejected proposals to impose restrictions on
trade in great white shark, basking shark, and whale shark products.} {{On
Apr. 20, 2000, at the CITES Conference of Parties, the United Kingdom
presented a revised proposal on basking sharks, but it failed to gain the
required two-thirds majority with a vote of 67 for and 42 against, with 8
abstentions.}} [Reuters, personal communication, Center for Marine
Conservation press release, Fed. Register, Assoc Press, International Fund
for Animal Welfare press release, Center for Marine Conservation press

Fisheries Budget Hearings. On Mar. 28, 2000, the House Resources
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans held an
oversight hearing on the Administration's FY2001 budget request for NMFS.
[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

Native Fishery. 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]

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. {{A second lancha was pursued into the Mexican EEZ, where the
seized lancha, catch, and fishing gear were transferred by the Coast Guard
to Mexican enforcement officials 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. 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. {{Between
Apr. 14 and Apr. 17, a total of 68 sea turtles, the majority being
loggerhead, washed up dead on NC Outer Banks beaches. The cause of this
mortality event is unknown. On Apr. 20, 2000, at the Conference of Parties
to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife
Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Nairobi, Kenya, delegates declined to adopt a
Cuban proposal to allow sale of stockpiled hawksbill turtle shell to Japan.
The secret ballot on this proposal failed to gain the required two-thirds
majority, with 67 in support and 41 against.}} [Assoc Press, MSNBC,
International Fund for Animal Welfare press release]

Pacific Groundfish. On Mar. 20-24, 2000, the Pacific Fishery Management
Council' Scientific and Statistical Committee held 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

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