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Subject: CRS: Daily Summary - 8/4/2000 - Longer Friday Version - Part 1 of 2
From: Peter Hagen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Fish-Sci-request <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 14 Aug 2000 19:03:43 -0800

text/plain (294 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:  The was the summary put out last Friday. There will be
no weekly summary that covers the week of Aug. 7-11.

Fisheries and Marine Mammals: Most Recent Developments -- 8/4/2000 (updated

New info and changes since 7/28/2000 are bracketed {...}
New info and changes since 8/3/2000 are double-bracketed {{...}}


IUU Fishing.  On Aug. 3, 2000, NMFS has scheduled a public meeting in Silver
Spring, MD, to receive comments on the U.S. position relative to the draft
UN Food and Agriculture Organization international plan of action to address
illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.  Comments will be
accepted through Aug. 5, 2000.  The objective of the plan is voluntary
implementation of comprehensive, effective, and transparent actions by FAO
member countries to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU fishing within 2 years
of its adoption.  The draft plan is scheduled for technical review in Rome
in October 2000. [NMFS press release]

{HMS Regulations.  On Aug. 1, 2000, NMFS published final regulations
establishing 3 time/area closures and gear restrictions to reduce bycatch
and bycatch mortality by U.S. commercial pelagic longline fishermen in the
Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.  Under these regulations DeSoto Canyon in
the northeast Gulf of Mexico (beginning Nov. 1, 2000) and the East Florida
Coast (beginning Feb. 1, 2001) will be closed year-round, while the
Charleston Bump will be closed seasonally from February through April.  In
the Gulf of Mexico, longline fishing with live bait will be prohibited after
Aug. 30, 2000.} [Fed Register]

{{Shark Management.  On July 31, 2000, NMFS announced the availability of a
draft National Plan of Action for the conservation and management of sharks
for their long-term sustainable use [ ], in response
to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization Committee on
Fisheries call for nations to develop such plans.  Public comment on the
draft will be accepted through Sept. 30, 2000.}} [personal communication]

{Illegal Geoducks.  On July 31, 2000, the owner of a Boston, MA, seafood
supplier pleaded guilty in federal court to buying illegally harvested
geoduck clams from NMFS undercover agents, was sentenced to 2 years
probation, and fined $2,5000.  His company was fined $7,500.  This action
was part of a larger investigation of illegal harvesting of geoduck clams in
WA.} [Assoc Press]

ACCSP Critique.  July 31, 2000 is scheduled to be the last day for public
comment on two elements of the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics
Program (ACCSP) conducted through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
Commission (ASMFC).  A Biological Sampling module seeks to standardize the
type and amount of biological data collected, while a Release, Discard, and
Protected Species Interactions Monitoring module aims to collect
quantitative and qualitative data on these interactions. [ASMFC press

{Russian Trawler.  On July 30, 2000, personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard
cutter Acushnet observed the 105-foot Russian trawler Spitak about 800 yards
inside U.S. waters in the Bering Sea, and subsequently seized the vessel for
illegal fishing.  The trawler is being escorted to Dutch Harbor, AK, where
its 150 lb. catch is to be transferred to NMFS on Aug. 4, while a decision
on whether to prosecute is considered.} [Assoc Press, Coast Guard press
release, personal communication]

Chesapeake Bay Oysters.  On July 27, 2000, scientists from the Chesapeake
Bay Foundation started 500,000 disease-resistant seed oysters near the mouth
of the York River as part of a project that will, after a year, transplant
these oysters to state oyster sanctuaries elsewhere on the Bay.

Pacific Groundfish.  From July 26 through Aug. 9, 2000, the Pacific Fishery
Management Council has scheduled a series of public hearings to disseminate
information on its Draft Strategic Plan for Groundfish Management and obtain
public comment.  The Plan calls for a reduction in harvest capacity by at
least 50%, discusses options, and recommends initial action. [personal

Native Fishery.  On July 26, 2000, eight Native fishermen were arrested and
5 were charged with assault in southwestern Nova Scotia, after refusing to
allow federal Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans and Royal Canadian Mounted
Police to board their boat in St. Mary's Bay in an investigation of the
alleged use of illegal traps.  When the fishing vessel returned to port, the
fishermen were reported to have resisted another attempt to board their
vessel, and a fight ensued.  Federal authorities seized the boat, a truck,
12 fishing traps, and 2 boxes of lobster. [Canadian Press, Halifax Herald]

Horseshoe Crabs.  On July 25, 2000, the VA Marine Resources Commission took
emergency action and voted 6-0 to halve the annual commercial harvest quota,
from 710,000 crabs to 355,000 crabs.  On Aug. 22, 2000, the Commission has
scheduled a hearing on possible permanent regulations for this fishery.  On
Aug. 21, 2000, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC's)
Horseshoe Crab Management Board is scheduled to meet in Alexandria, VA, to
consider VA's proposed modification of its horseshoe crab management. [ASMFC
press release, Virginian-Pilot]

Summer Flounder Lawsuit.  On July 25, 2000, the State of CT filed suit
against NMFS in U.S. District Court (Hartford), claiming laws and
implemented quotas governing the summer flounder fishery are
unconstitutional and discriminate against CT fishermen. [Assoc Press]

Shark Feeding Workshop.  On July 25, 2000, the FL Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission had scheduled a public workshop in Dania Beach, FL,
on a proposed rule to prohibit shark feeding in state waters.  While some
divers and dive operators feed sharks, others would like to prohibit this
activity. [Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel]

Nuclear Plant Lawsuit.  On July 24, 2000, the CT Supreme Court issued 2
decisions, ruling against an environmental group, Fish Unlimited, that had
filed suit against Northeast Utilities, operator of the Millstone nuclear
power complex in Waterford, CT, claiming the plant's cooling system was
damaging the winter flounder fishery in Niantic Bay and Long Island Sound.
The Court ruled that Fish Unlimited lacked legal standing to bring the case
to court and had not exhausted all administrative options. [Assoc Press]

Canadian Groundfish.  On July 21, 2000, Newfoundland Fisheries Minister John
Efford lifted a short-term ban on processing cod, with the provision that
the fishery could be closed anytime after July 29 if the amount of "grade A"
fish, as measured by processors, falls below 75%.  The ban had been imposed
after cod began to gorge on capelin to assure that only high quality fish
were processed. [Canadian Press]

Scallop Lawsuit.  On July 20, 2000, the Ocean Law Project filed suit in U.S.
District Court on behalf of the Conservation Law Foundation and the American
Oceans Campaign, charging that NMFS illegally opened a closed area off New
England to scallop fishing.  The groups planned to ask the Court to prohibit
the planned reopening of two additional areas to scallop dredging. [Assoc

{ICCAT Advisory Committee.  On July 19, 2000, NMFS solicited nominations to
the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Section to the International Commission
for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).  The deadline for
nominations is Aug. 18, 2000.  In early August 2000, NMFS is scheduled to
publish an announcement of public meetings of the Advisory Committee to
ICCAT.  A series of 4 public meetings will be held between Sept. 7 and Oct.
5, 2000, to obtain public input on issues relating to U.S. participation in
ICCAT.} [personal communication, Fed. Register]

Oceans Caucus Conference.  On July 17-19, 2000, the House Oceans Caucus will
host a conference "Oceans for the New Millennium - Developing and
Implementing Ocean Policy - An International Perspective" in Washington, DC.
[personal communication]

Seabird Protection.  In mid-July 2000, representatives from 12 nations
gathered in Hobart, Australia, to begin development of an international
agreement to protect southern hemisphere seabirds, particularly from
longline fisheries.  While the United States and United Kingdom participated
in these meetings, Japan and Spain did not. Draft proposals would require
signatory countries to reduce seabird mortalities, particularly from
longline fisheries as well as efforts directed at habitat conservation,
increased scientific knowledge, and public education. [Environment News

Coral Protection.  On July 13, 2000, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management
Council voted to recommend that 2 marine reserves be established in the
Tortugas, that federal waters within the proposed Tortugas Ecological
Reserve be closed to all commercial and recreational fishing, and that all
fishing vessels be prohibited from anchoring in the marine reserves.  The
Council also notified the National Ocean Service that it objected to non-
consumptive diving in the reserves within the Council's jurisdiction, under
the essential fish habitat authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.  On July
17, 2000, a coalition of environmental groups filed a petition with the U.S.
Coral Reef Task Force, demanding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stop
approving underwater fiber optic cables across sensitive coral reefs without
conducting environmental reviews.  On July 21-Aug. 1, 2000, the Dept. of
Commerce, Dept. of the Interior, State of HI, and the Western Pacific
Fisheries Management Council are holding 7 public meetings, seeking public
comment on issues and options for protection of coral reef ecosystems of the
northwestern Hawaiian Islands.  The July 21, 2000 meeting is at the Dept. of
Commerce in Washington, DC, with the rest of the meetings in HI.  Public
comment will be accepted through Aug. 2, 2000.  On July 27, 2000, the U.S.
Coral Reef Task Force will hold a "pre-meeting" in Washington, DC,
preliminary to the regular Task Force meeting to be held in August 2000 in
American Samoa, to accommodate individuals unable to attend the American
Samoa meeting.  {On July 30-Aug. 3, 2000, coral experts from 7 nations met
in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the first international symposium on deepwater
corals.  The focus was a discussion of management options when and where
fishing gear may pose a threat to these resources.} [CBC News, Center for
Marine Conservation press release, Environmental News Network, personal
communication, NOAA press release, Reuters, Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility press release]

Invasive Species.  On July 10, 2000, the National Invasive Species Council
released the "United States Invasive Species Draft Management Plan:
Preparing for the Future."  The Plan [ ] has four sections: 1) a
description of problems associated with invasive species and future trends
that will have an impact on the introduction of invasive species; 2) a
description of the federal response to date to the challenges presented by
invasive species; 3) an action plan presenting a vision and guiding
principles along with a series of recommendations for federal agencies; and
4) a description of Council progress and action to date and anticipated
action over the next few years.  {On July 28, 2000, the Secretaries of
Agriculture, Commerce, and the Interior jointly announced the appointment of
Lori C. Williams, special assistant to the Director of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, as Executive Director of the federal interagency Invasive
Species Council.} [Dept. of the Interior press release, personal

Cocaine Smuggled Amid Shrimp.  On July 7, 2000, U.S. Customs Service agents
discovered cocaine worth about $8 million concealed in boxes of frozen jumbo
shrimp arriving at Miami International Airport from Caracas, Venezuela.

Mexican Lanchas.  On July 5, 2000, Station South Padre Island Coast Guard
personnel responded to reports of 2 Mexican lanchas in the U.S. EEZ about 30
miles off the TX coast.  One lancha was apprehended and the other fled into
Mexican waters.  The case was transferred to Mexican authorities for
prosecution. [personal communication]

Brown Tide.  In early July 2000, scientists reported the earliest and most
widespread outbreak of brown tide, Aureococcus anophagefferens, in more than
a decade in Great South Bay, Long Island, NY.  Baymen fear a possible
disaster for shellfish. [Newsday Inc.]

Lobsters.  In early July 2000, the ME Dept. of Marine Resources proposed
regulations to implement limited entry for lobstermen in 4 management zones,
as requested by 4 local lobster management councils.  If adopted, no new
lobstermen would be allowed in these zones after January 2001.  Public
hearings will be held before the Dept. Commissioner makes a decision on the
proposal, possibly by September 2000. [Assoc Press]

Salmon Shark Research.  In early July 2000, NMFS scientists will begin a 2-
year Alaska Salmon Shark Assessment Project to tag and investigate the
increasing salmon shark population in Prince William Sound, AK, and the Gulf
of Alaska. [Assoc Press]]

Sea Turtles.  On June 30, 2000, NMFS released a Biological Opinion,
concluding that the Atlantic pelagic longline fishery jeopardized the
continued existence of loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles.  On July 18,
2000, U.S. District Judge David Ezra declined to modify his June 23, 2000
ruling, aimed at protecting sea turtles from activities of the HI longline
fishery, but announced that he would mediate a plan to allow the longline
fishery to coexist with Pacific leatherback turtles.  The Judge's June 23
ruling - reducing fishing days by 95%, limiting the fishing area, and
requiring federal observers aboard vessels - was to go into effect on July
23, 2000, and remain in force until NMFS completes an environmental impact
statement on the effect of longline fishing on these turtles.  On July 20,
2000, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled a hearing on the
Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea
Turtles.  {On July 21, 2000, Judge Ezra extended his injunction imposing
restrictions on longlining for 10 days, from July 26 to Aug. 5, 2000, to
provide more time to consider motions filed calling on him to reconsider his
ban.  The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council reportedly asked Ezra
to lift his ban.}  Between July 31, 2000, and August 17, 2000, NMFS has
scheduled a series of 7 scoping meetings to obtain input on short-term and
long-term solutions for reducing turtle interactions with the Atlantic
pelagic longline fishery.  Measures implemented must reduce turtle mortality
by 75% to meet the performance standard of NMFS's biological opinion of June
30, 2000. [Reuters, personal communication, Honolulu Star-Bulletin]

TX Shrimp.  On June 27 through July 20, 2000, the TX Parks and Wildlife
(TPW) Dept. has scheduled a series of public hearings on its Shrimp Fishery
Proclamation, proposing increased regulation of the fishery.  The
Proclamation has 5 major components dealing with 1) protection of smaller
shrimp through deferred harvest, 2) additional harvest efficiency and
opportunities, 3) increased spawning success of adult shrimp entering the
Gulf, 4) acceleration of a voluntary shrimp license buyback program, and 5)
restrictions to conserve other marine life affected by shrimp trawling.  The
TPW Commission is scheduled to consider the new proposals at its Aug. 31,
2000 meeting. [Houston Chronicle]

Kelp Management.  On June 27-July 13, 2000, the CA group Save Our Shares
hosted a series of public educational fora to discuss the draft kelp
management report for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  Public
comments on the draft kelp management report will be accepted through Aug.
7, 2000. [NOAA press release]

Scup Lawsuits.  On June 23, 2000, a group of mid-Atlantic fishermen and fish
dealers filed suit against NMFS, challenging gear restricted areas for the
scup fishery as not based on the best scientific information; impractical
given their economic, social, and safety costs; and underestimate the
impacts on fishing communities.  On this same date, the State of New York
filed suit against NMFS in U.S. District Court, challenging the summer 2000
quota for scup, claiming the failure to allocate state-by-state quotas is
arbitrary and capricious as well as an abuse of discretion.  On June 26,
2000, a second group of mid-Atlantic fishermen filed suit against NMFS,
challenging gear restricted areas for the scup fishery as lacking a
significant bycatch of scup. [personal communication]

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