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CRS: Daily Summary - 6/2/2000 - Longer Friday Version - Part 1 of 2


Peter Hagen <[log in to unmask]>


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


Tue, 6 Jun 2000 09:24:00 -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 -- 6/2/2000 (updated

New info and changes since 5/26/2000 are bracketed {...}
New info and changes since 6/1/2000 are double-bracketed {{...}}


{Lobster Smuggling. On May 31, 2000, the Justice Dept. announced that 4
individuals had been indicted in a conspiracy to smuggle more than $2.5
million worth of illegally harvested Caribbean lobsters into the United
States at Bayou La Batre, AL. The U.S. government alleges that a Honduran
fishing fleet owner sold illegally caught spiny lobsters to 2 FL importers,
who sold them to a woman with connections to 3 seafood companies in CA, FL,
and NJ. Arraignment is scheduled for June , 2000, in Mobile, AL.} [CNN]

{Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. On May 30, 2000, the federal
Sanctuary Advisory Council discussed 5 preliminary options to expand the
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, with some new areas likely to be
designated as "no-take" zones. Proposals under consideration range from
small changes to sanctuary boundaries to an increase of 5,096 square miles.
After additional public meetings, the Council will prepared a formal draft
of alternatives by July 2000 for Sanctuary managers, who will select a
preferred option late in 2000.} [Los Angeles Times]

{Shark Quota. On May 30, 2000, NMFS announced that it was adjusting the
second 2000 semiannual quota for large coastal sharks (lowering the quota
from 642.5 metric dons dressed weight to 542 metric tons dressed weight) to
account for overharvest during the first 2000 semiannual season. The
fishery was estimated to be able to harvest this quota during a season
scheduled to be open from July 1, 2000, until Aug. 7, 2000.} [personal

{Illex Squid. In late May 2000, NMFS scientists at the Northeast Fisheries
Science Center, Woods Hole, MA, in cooperation with 2 commercial squid
vessels, began a 10-day survey of short-finned (Illex) squid abundance
between NC and the Canadian border.} [Boston Herald]

{AK Snow Crab Fishery. In late May 2000, NMFS determined the AK snow crab
fishery suffered a commercial fisheries failure due to natural and
environmental factors. Such a determination would allow financial
assistance to participants in this fishery and affected communities, if
funds are appropriated by Congress.} [personal communication]

Jellyfish Joint Venture. On May 24, 2000, two companies, Pristine from FL and Shandong Chisan Aquatic Group Ltd. from the People's
Republic of China, announced the formation of a joint venture to harvest,
process, and market cannonball jellyfish and other seafood products from the
Gulf of Mexico. A research effort in FL during August and September 2000
will evaluate jellyfish operations. [Pristine press release]

{Import Prohibitions. On May 24, 2000, NMFS published proposed regulations
that would prohibit the import of Atlantic bluefin tuna and their products
from Equatorial Guinea, and would prohibit the import of swordfish and their
products from Belize and Honduras. Prohibitions on the import of Atlantic
bluefin tuna from Panama would be repealed. These actions are being taken
to implement recommendations by the International Commission for the
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. A series of 5 public hearings will be held
between June 5, 2000, and July 11, 2000, with comment accepted through July
18, 2000.} [Fed. Register]

Canadian Groundfish. On May 24, 2000, Canada's federal advisory group, the
Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, issued a report recommending that
cod harvest quotas be reduced for northern and eastern Newfoundland (from
9,000 metric tons to 7,000 metric tons) and Georges Bank (from 3,000 metric
tons to 2,000 metric tons) because cod stocks are not recovering as quickly
as expected. In addition, the Council supported fishermen in calling for
measures to be taken to protect cod stocks from seals. On a positive note,
the Council recommended increasing quotas for haddock and yellowtail
flounder on Georges Bank. [Canadian Press]

{Swordfish Quotas. On May 24, 2000, NMFS published proposed regulations
that would reduce the 2000, 2001, and 2002 annual landing quotas for north
Atlantic swordfish from 2,333 metric tons (dressed weight) to 2,219 metric
tons (dressed weight) as part of an international stock rebuilding program.
A series of 5 public hearings will be held between June 5, 2000, and July
11, 2000, with comment accepted through July 18, 2000.} [Fed. Register]

VMS in HMS Fisheries. On May 23, 2000, NMFS requested comment on proposed
VMS (vessel monitoring system) installation procedures for Atlantic pelagic
longline vessels fishing for highly migratory species (HMS, e.g., tuna,
swordfish, and shark). VMS will be required of vessels in the fishery
beginning Sept. 1, 2000. NMFS is accepting comment through June 26, 2000.
[personal communication]

Chesapeake Bay. On May 23, 2000, the VA Marine Resources Commission agreed
to consider creating a 297,600-acre crab sanctuary near the mouth of
Chesapeake Bay, where crabbing would be prohibited during spawning season
between June 1 and Sept. 15 annually. After a public hearing, the
Commission will vote on the proposal in June 2000. [Virginian-Pilot]

Maritime Snow Crab. On May 23, 2000, Canada's Fisheries Minister Herb
Dhaliwal announced an earlier opening and an almost threefold increase in
this year's snow crab harvest off eastern Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Opening
June 1, 2000 (rather than July 22), the harvest quota will be 9,800 metric
tons (as opposed to 3,600 metric tons in 1999). First Nation fishermen have
been allocated 500 metric tons of the harvest. Vessel monitoring systems
(VMS) will be required for vessels working in the far offshore areas.
[Halifax Herald]

New England Groundfish. On May 19, 2000, a coalition of environmental
groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of
Columbia against NMFS, NOAA, and the Secretary of Commerce, alleging federal
fishery management of New England groundfish violates Magnuson-Stevens Act
requirements to conserve and restore depleted fisheries. The lawsuits asks
the court to force NMFS to adopt a plan that sets bycatch limits and
modifies the New England Council's definition of overfishing. On May 23,
2000, the city of Gloucester, MA, filed suit in U.S. District Court (Boston)
against Secretary of Commerce Richard Daley, claiming new limits on cod
threaten the city's economy and force resident fishermen to fish in unsafe
conditions. The lawsuit asks that regulations closing Gulf of Maine waters
off Gloucester and Cape Cod each January be set aside. [Boston Globe, Assoc

Capacity Reduction Program. On May 18, 2000, NMFS published final interim
framework regulations specifying procedures for requesting and conducting
fishing capacity reduction programs. Comments are being accepted through
June 19, 2000. [Fed. Register]

Striped Bass. Between May 15, 2000, and June 1, 2000, the Atlantic States
Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has scheduled 19 public hearings to
gather comments on preferred long-term management measures for striped bass
along the Atlantic coast, from ME to NC. [personal communication, ASMFC
press release]

Invasive Species. In mid-May 2000, delegates to the 5th meeting of the
Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, meeting in Nairobi,
Kenya, called for formal talks to develop a protocol to address the threats
from alien, non-native species. On May 19, 2000, NOAA and the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service (FWS) published a request for proposals for innovative
research, outreach, and demonstrations projects that would address the
problems of aquatic invasive species in U.S. waters. In this program, Sea
Grant will have about $700,000 and FWS about $300,000 to support projects to
improved ballast water treatment and management. Proposals are to be
submitted no later than June 19, 2000. [Panafrican New Agency, Fed.

CT Nuclear Complex Lawsuit. In mid-May 2000, CT Superior Court Judge
Seymour Hendel is expected to rule on a motion by Northeast Utilities to
dismiss a lawsuit by the CT Coalition Against Millstone, seeking to shutdown
the Millstone 3 nuclear power complex during the winter flounder spawning
season. In mid-May 2000, the CT Supreme Court took a case from the CT
Appellate Court related to the Millstone 2 nuclear power complex possibly
damaging Long Island Sound winter flounder fisheries. Three hours of
initial arguments were scheduled for May 23, 2000. [Assoc Press]

Coral Protection. {On May 12, 2000, NOAA received a report of the Danish
freighter Caroline K was anchored inside a "no anchoring zone" within the
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Upon investigation, about 220
square feet of coral damage was found to have been caused by the vessel's
anchor and its chain. The case is being reviewed for possible prosecution.
On May 18, 2000, NOAA published proposed regulations to expand the Florida
Keys National Marine Sanctuary by 96 square nautical miles and establish a
151 square nautical mile "no-take" reserve to protect corals in the Tortugas
area. A series of 6 public hearings on the proposal is scheduled, with
comment accepted through July 31, 2000.} On May 26, 2000, President Clinton
directed the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior to jointly, in
cooperation with the state of HI and the Western Pacific Fishery Management
Council, develop a plan and recommendations within 90 days, with public
input, that would permanently protect the coral reefs of the Northwestern
Hawaiian Islands. The June 2000 edition of the journal "Global
Biogeochemical Cycles" is scheduled to contain a report on the potential
harm of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to coral. By
mid- century, the article's authors believe, a 30% reduction in carbonate
ion concentration in surface ocean waters will result in significant
reduction in calcification rates for coral and coralline algae. Reef
organisms were not found able to acclimate after prolonged exposure to
reduced carbonate levels in experiments in the 700,000-gallon artificial
seawater aquarium at Columbia Univ.'s Biosphere 2 Center in AZ. {{On June
21-22, 2000, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) has
scheduled two public hearings on the proposal to establish the Tortugas
South and Tortugas North marine reserves, for a period of at least 10 years.
The Council will accept comment on the proposal through June 30, 2000, and
is scheduled to take action on the amendment establishing these reserves at
its July 12, 2000 meeting in Key Largo, FL.}} [American Geophysical Union
press release, Columbia Univ. press release, Environmental News Network,
White House press release, personal communication, Fed. Register, NOAA press
release, GMFMC press release]

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]

IUU Fishing. On May 7, 2000, Greenpeace activists aboard the vessel
Greenpeace observed the Cambodian-flagged vessel Benny 87 in international
waters of the Atlantic 500 miles off Angola, transhipping an estimated 70
metric tons of bigeye tuna, marlin, and swordfish to the Panamanian-flagged
vessel Hatsukari. Greenpeace alleges these vessels were involved in
illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing by operating in violation
of rules established by the International Commission for the Conservation of
Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Greenpeace activists [ ]
proceeded to take unilateral action to confiscate longline fishing gear set
by the crew of the Benny 87. On May 12, 2000, activists from the Greenpeace
were reported to have blocked transhipment of tuna from the Belize-flagged
Hau Shen 202 to the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Toyou, about 400 miles
west of Angola. In addition Greenpeace activists documented the activities
of 2 other Belize-flagged vessels fishing in violation of ICCAT guidelines,
and has called on the government of Belize to take enforcement action
against these vessels. On May 15-19, 2000, the government of Australia, in
cooperation with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, was
scheduled to hold an expert consultation on IUU fishing in Sydney, with a
view to preparing the first draft of an International Plan of Action to
deal effectively with all forms of IUU fishing. [personal communication]

Native Fishery. On May 6-7, 2000, several Natives from the Burnt Church
First Nation in northern New Brunswick set lobster traps marked with tags
issued by the Band, rather than federal tags. Some of these traps were
seized by federal enforcement agents. As of May 17, 2000, Canadian Dept. of
Fisheries and Oceans enforcement officers had confiscated 38 lobster traps
bearing Burnt Church fisheries management tags. On May 18, 2000, the
Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs met with federal fishery
officials, but no consensus was reached on whether the aboriginal treaty
right to fish or the federal right to regulate takes precedence. {{On June
1, 2000, federal fisheries enforcement officers confiscated at least 40
lobster traps marked with tags issued by the Burnt Church First Nation.}}
[Canadian Press, National Post, Halifax Herald, Assoc Press]

White Abalone. On May 5, 2000, NMFS published a proposed rule to list white
abalone as endangered under the authority of the Endangered Species Act.
Public comment on this proposal will be accepted through July 5, 2000. [Fed.

Fish Habitat Restoration Grants. On May 5, 2000, NMFS publish notice of
funding available to implement grassroots projects to restore fish habitat
in their Community-Based Restoration Program. NMFS will accept application
for funding under this Program through June 9, 2000. [Fed. Register]

Toothfish. On May 10, 2000, NMFS published regulations requiring importers
of toothfish to send catch documents, verifying legal harvest, to NMFS
within 24 hours of product delivery. Critics of this approach claim that
advance notification of toothfish imports is required to halt the sale of
illegal harvest. Beginning May 7, 2000, all 23 Members of the Commission for
the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources are required to use a
catch documentation scheme to refuse toothfish imports that have not been
caught legally. [The Antarctic Project press release, Fed. Register]

Seafood Safety. On May 9, 2000, a subcommittee report on sanitation of
seafood products was scheduled to be submitted to an advisory panel to
Japan's Health and Welfare Minister. Japan experiences about 10,000 cases
of reported food poisoning from Vibrio annually. [Daily Yomiuri]

Scallops. On May 4, 2000, the New England Fishery Management Council
discussed a new proposal to open and close commercial scallop harvesting on
a rotational plan among areas between ME and NE to allow concentrations of
small scallops to grow to larger size. [Assoc Press]

NC Blue Crab Fishery. On May 3, 2000, the NC Joint Legislative Study
Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture approved a draft bill that would open
access to the NC blue crab fishery for fishermen who already had the NC
standard commercial fishing licence. This would be the first time in
several years that new entrants could enter the crab fishery, as had been
recommended by the NC Marine Fisheries Commission. [Carteret News-Times]

Horseshoe Crabs. On May 3, 2000, NMFS published proposed regulations
closing the area within a 30-nautical-mile radius of the mouth of Delaware
Bay to harvesting of horseshoe crabs. On May 30, 2000, the RI Dept. of
Environmental Management held a public hearing in Providence on proposed
regulations to prevent horseshoe crab overharvesting. [Fed. Register, Boston
Globe, Assoc Press, MSNBC]

Sea Turtles. On May 3, 2000, NMFS a 2-week closure of inshore waters off SC
to shrimp trawling unless vessels are equipped with modified turtle excluder
devices capable of passing leatherback sea turtles. On May 3-8, 2000, a
total of 220 dead sea turtles (216 loggerheads and 4 Kemp's ridleys) were
been reported from NC beaches between Hatteras Village and Oregon Inlet.
{{Although large-mesh gillnet gear used to catch monkfish was found
associated with 4 dead turtles,}} the cause of death has not been
determined, and NMFS is investigating. On May 12, 2000, NMFS ordered a
30-day emergency closure to large-mesh gillnet fishing in waters off VA and
NC to protect sea turtles. On May 17, 2000, U.S. Coast Guard personnel
responded to reports of illegal gillnet fishing south of Chincoteague
Island. One vessel was issued a violation, while 10 other vessels received
verbal warnings after requesting time to retrieve illegal nets as soon as
weather allowed. In late May 2000, NMFS ordered shrimp trawlers operating
off GA and southern NC to use, through June 2, 2000, modified turtle
excluder devices with larger escape hatches to better protect leatherback
sea turtles. {An article in the May 31, 2000 issue of Nature reported that
the population of Pacific leatherback sea turtles may be as low as a few
thousand individuals. This compares with NMFS's previous estimate of a
population of 85,000 individuals. This information may affect Judge Ezra's
action on modifying waters closed to the Hawaiian longline fishery, expected
in June 2000.} [Assoc Press, MSNBC, International Fund for Animal Welfare
press release, Fed. Register, Virginian- Pilot, personal communication,
Center for Marine Conservation press release, Reuters]

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

New Species Marketed. On May 2, 2000, about 70 pounds of big roughy were
sold at the Portland (ME) Fish Exchange for the first time. The fish had
been taken by gillnet in a 1,000-foot-deep canyon on the southern edge of
Georges Bank. [Blethen Maine Newspapers]

Marine Reserves/Protected Areas. Between Apr. 26, 2000 and June 1, 2000,
the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has scheduled 9 public scoping
meetings in NC, SC, GA, and FL on using marine reserves as a fishery
management tool, with emphasis on conservation of essential fish habitat and
the species associated with the snapper-grouper complex. On May 26, 2000,
President Clinton signed an executive order directing federal agencies
within the Dept. of the Interior and Dept. of Commerce to work together to
create a comprehensive network of marine protected areas (MPAs) that
encompass diverse ecosystems and include ecological reserves where fishing,
oil drilling, and other consumptive uses are prohibited. {{A Marine
Protected Area Center would be established within the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to coordinate this effort.}} [White House
press release, Fed. Register]

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