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Subject: CRS: Daily Summary - 8/18/2000 - Longer Friday Version - Part 1 of 2
From: Peter Hagen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Fish-Sci-request <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 18 Aug 2000 13:24:48 -0800

text/plain (314 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 -- 8/18/2000 (updated

New info and changes since 8/4/2000 are bracketed {...}
New info and changes since 8/17/2000 are double-bracketed {{...}}


{{Lobster Lawsuit.  In late August 2000, Long Island Sound lobstermen are
reportedly planning to file suit in U.S. District Court (Brooklyn, NY)
seeking $75 million in damages from makers of malathion-based and pyrethoid-
containing pesticides and a methoprene-containing larvicide used during 1999
in CT and NY to kill mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus.  Lobstermen
blame the pesticides for an epidemic lobster mortality event.}} [Assoc

{{Illegal Scalloping.  On Aug. 17, 2000, Coast Guard personnel intercepted a
New Bedford, MA, scallop trawler fishing illegally in the Nantucket
Lightship closed area.  The vessel was boarded, 2 tons of scallop seized,
and the vessel escorted to New Bedford, where the case was to be transferred
to NMFS for possible prosecution.}} [Boston Globe]

{{AK Crab Fishery Closure.  On Aug. 15, 2000, the AK Dept. of Fish and Game
announced that the St. Matthew Island blue king crab fishery and the
Pribilof Islands red and blue king crab fisheries will remain closed during
2000 due to low crab abundance identified in the summer 2000 Bering Sea
research survey.  The projected harvest level for the October 2000 Bristol
Bay red king crab fishery was scheduled to be announced on Aug. 18, 2000.}}
[Anchorage Daily News]

{{Illegal Shrimping.  On Aug. 12, 2000, personnel from the Coast Guard
Cutter Key Biscayne observed the Mexican vessel Vikingo I illegally
harvesting shrimp in U.S. waters 35 miles off the TX coast.  The documented
case is to be forwarded to Mexican authorities.}} [personal communication]

{Chinese Trawler Seized.  On Aug. 12, 2000, personnel from a Coast Guard
Hercules aircraft observed 5 foreign vessels operating within U.S. waters
along the U.S.-Russia Maritime Boundary in the Bering Sea.  The 334-foot
Chinese trawler Ming Chang illegally fishing for pollock farthest inside
U.S. waters.  After pursuit by the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton and the
first-ever joint boarding with Russian Federal Border Service agents (after
the trawler entered Russian waters) that has led to law enforcement action,
the trawler was seized on Aug. 14, 2000.  The Ming Chang with its catch of
more than 1,000 metric tons of pollock was escorted to Dutch Harbor, AK,
where it was expected to arrive by Aug. 18.} [Coast Guard press release,
personal communication]

{Seafood Fraud?  On Aug. 11, 2000, creditors charged in a state district
court affidavit that a defunct Galveston, TX, seafood wholesaler's alleged
fraud scheme may have caused losses of $5.3 million to a TX firm and another
$15 million in losses to a NJ firm.  Contested claims surround the alleged
loss of shrimp or Spanish sardines in a warehouse fire; the "shrimp" was
used as collateral in obtaining loans.  Also, it is alleged that about $80
million in fictitious seafood accounts receivable were sold.  Trial is
tentatively scheduled for March 2001.} [Houston Chronicle]

{New England Groundfish.  On Aug. 10, 2000, personnel from the Coast Guard
Cutter Grand Isle intercepted and seized the catch of a ME groundfish
trawler for illegal fishing in the Cashes Ledge closed area.  The vessel was
escorted to Gloucester, MA, where more than 5 tons of groundfish were to be
auctioned with the proceeds held in escrow until any prosecution of this
case by NMFS concludes.} [New London Day, personal communication]

{Glacier Bay Fisheries.  On Aug. 10, 2000, the Senate Energy and Natural
Resources Committee held an oversight field hearing in Juneau, AK, on issues
involving Glacier Bay National Park including the implications of
restrictions on commercial fishing in Glacier Bay.} [personal communication]

{Billfish.  On Aug. 9, 2000, NMFS published notice requesting comments on
options for reducing U.S. recreational landings of Atlantic blue marlin to
comply with recommendations of the International Commission for the
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).  NMFS also requested comments on 1)
options to improve the monitoring of recreationally landed billfish and
swordfish, 2) prohibiting retention of Atlantic billfish onboard any
U.S.-flagged vessel that has been issued a commercial fishing permit for any
Atlantic highly migratory species, 3) the use of circle hooks or other gear
modifications to reduce mortality of released fish, and 4) the allowance of
exemptions to the minimum size for those anglers seeking fly rod/light
tackle records from certifying organizations.  Comments will be accepted
through Sept. 25, 2000.} [Fed. Register]

{Marine Debris Conference.  On Aug. 7-11, 2000, participants from the United
States, United Kingdom, Japan, and Russian met in Honolulu, HI, for the
"International Marine Debris Conference on Derelict Fishing Gear and the
Ocean Environment, seeking to develop an action plan to mitigate damage from
derelict fishing gear and reduce the impact on marine species and habitats.}
[personal communication]

{Mexican Lanchas.  On Aug. 7, 2000, personnel from the Coast Guard Cutter
Amberjack boarded and seized a Mexican lancha illegally fishing with
longline gear in U.S. waters 16 miles off the TX coast.  The case will be
transferred to Mexican law enforcement officials.}  {{On Aug. 12 and 17,
2000, additional Mexican lanchas were intercepted off the TX coast by
personnel from the Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne and subsequently
transferred to Mexican law enforcement officials.}} [personal communication]

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 Fisheries.  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 for
highly migratory species (HMS) in more than 100,000 square miles of 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.  {In response to the new regulations, in early August 2000,
two environmental groups, SeaWeb and the Natural Resources Defense Council,
ended their two- year campaign to discourage consumption of swordfish,
releasing 700 chefs nationwide from their pledge to not serve swordfish.}
[Assoc Press, 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]

Invasive Species.  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 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. {On Aug. 13, 2000, Canadian
federal fisheries enforcement officials raided Native lobster fisheries in
Miramichi Bay, New Brunswick, confiscating 748 lobster traps alleged to be
illegal.   On Aug. 14, 2000, individuals of the Burnt Church First Nation
responded to the weekend trap seizure by establishing roadblocks on a major
highway through their reserve and setting more traps to replace those
seized.  The Burnt Church band is one of 5 bands (in a total of 34 bands)
which have refused or not yet completed negotiation of a fishery agreement
with the federal government.  On Aug. 14, 2000, the New Brunswick court
system released 4 aboriginal men charged with obstructing fisheries officers
during a the weekend raid and trap seizure.  The Canadian federal government
had sought to ban these individuals from fishing in Miramichi Bay, New
Brunswick.} [Reuters, Canadian Press, Assoc 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. 8, 2000, Secretary of
Commerce Norman Mineta and DE  Governor Thomas Carper made a joint
announcement of a proposed federal preserve to protect horseshoe crabs in
state and federal waters off the mouth of Delaware Bay.  The proposed
closure would prohibit fishing for horseshoe crabs within approximately a
30-nautical- mile radius off the mouth of Delaware Bay.  In addition, NMFS
declared a moratorium on horseshoe crab fishing in VA state waters,
beginning in mid- September 2000, if VA fails to comply with fishing quotas
agreed to by other Atlantic coastal states.}  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, NOAA press release]

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]

Summer Flounder Lawsuit.  On July 24, 2000, the State of CT filed suit
against NMFS in U.S. District Court (Hartford), claiming the Magnuson-
Stevens Act/Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act and
implemented quotas thereunder governing the summer flounder and other
fisheries are unconstitutional and discriminate against CT fishermen. [Assoc

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]

Coral Protection.  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

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]

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]

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]

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