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9/20/96 -- Info Summary for U.S. Congress and Staff


Aldo-Pier Solari <[log in to unmask]>


Academic forum on fisheries ecology and related topics <[log in to unmask]>


Mon, 23 Sep 1996 09:48:46 GMT





text/plain (1 lines)

Fisheries Groups:

     I'm appending part of a regular update I prepare for congressional staff on
fisheries and marine mammal public policy issues as I see them . In
deference to those who have to pay for communications time, I am including
only new items added since my last posting, and a shortened introduction. I
will post the entire summary and the longer introduction on the first Friday of
the month.

NOTE: Archived copies of "first Friday" longer summaries for February 1994
through the present are now available at:


                                 Gene Buck, Senior Analyst
                                 Congressional Research Service

e-mail: [log in to unmask]

Summary follows:

Marine Fisheries
        AK Sea Urchin Management. In late September 1996, the Alaska
Dept. of Fish and Game's (ADF&G's) Sea Urchin Task Force will meet in
Ketchikan to consider a proposed 4.5 million pound harvest quota and
estimated management costs of $250,000 for the fishery. ADF&G
management costs are to be paid by urchin processors, who would be
reimbursed by urchin harvesters through about a 5.5 cent per pound fee on
urchin deliveries. [Assoc Press]
        Chesapeake Bay. On Sept. 18, 1996, Virginia biologists reported that
the annual state survey of juvenile striped bass (rockfish) in Chesapeake Bay
drainages indicated the highest abundance since surveys began in 1967 and
more than 4 times the 29-year average. [Assoc Press, Baltimore Sun via
        Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Sept. 23, 1996 is the
deadline for comments to NMFS concerning a draft implementation plan for
the United States to meet to standards of the United Nations Code of Conduct
for Responsible Fisheries. [NOAA press release]
        Oil Spill Compensation Protest. On Sept. 20, 1996, more than 300
fishing vessels gathered near the Chinese Petroleum's offshore oil port at
Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to protest slow action to compensate them for damages
from an August 1996 oil spill. Chinese Petroleum had negotiated a T$230
million (US$8.36 million) compensation plan, but fishermen claimed that the
agreed-upon payment schedule was not being met. Chinese Petroleum
responded that it was having problems with the eligibility of some of the 8,000
claims filed. [Reuters]
        Invasive Species Hearing. On Sept. 19, 1996, the Senate Committee
on Environment and Public Work's Subcommittee on Drinking Water,
Fisheries, and Wildlife held a hearing on S. 1660, the National Invasive
Species Act of 1996. This measure seeks to prevent further introduction of
non-native aquatic species into U.S. waters. [personal communication]
        Citizens Against Government Waste Report. On Sept. 19, 1996,
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released a report identifying
what the group considers to be examples of pork-barrel projects included in
fiscal year 1997 appropriations bills. Several marine fisheries programs were
specifically identified. [CAGW press release]
        Canada's Atlantic Groundfish. On Sept. 18, 1996, Canada's Minister
of Fisheries Fred Mifflin announced that, beginning Sept. 20, 1996 and
continuing for 3 days, Newfoundland residents will be allowed to catch as
many as 10 cod and other groundfish daily in the first open cod fishery since
1992. From 500 tons to 750 tons of groundfish could be caught by 15,000
people during the 3 days. [Assoc Press]
        Alaska Halibut and Sablefish IFQ Report. On Sept. 18, 1996, the
North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Sitka, AK, received a
report from the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission on the north
Pacific halibut and sablefish IFQ program. Researchers reported that the
number of non-Alaskans receiving quota shares and the number of shares
issued to non-Alaskans had been underestimated (121 million pounds of
halibut quota shares to non-Alaskans versus a predicted 83 million pounds;
185 million pounds of sablefish quota shares to non-Alaskans versus a
predicted 144 million pounds). In addition, the number of quota shares
granted to smaller vessels was overestimated. However, safety of the fishery
improved -- the number of Coast Guard search-and-rescue operations was
only about half what it had been prior to the IFQ program. In addition, halibut
mortality from lost and abandoned gear declined significantly, fishermen
received higher prices for their halibut and sablefish catch and processors
received a higher price for their product, and gear replacement and insurance
costs declined for the halibut fleet. [Assoc Press]
        Red Lobster Make-Over. On Sept. 17, 1996, officials of the Red
Lobster restaurant chain announced that the chain will spend $150 million to
redecorate more than 600 outlets. In addition, the chain will reduce prices,
add new entrees, and increase portion sizes. [Reuters]
        European Fishing Fleet Restructuring. In mid-September 1996, the
European Commission (EC) sent a memorandum to Member States
discussing criticisms and observations on the EC's policy paper on new
programs for restructuring European fishing fleets. This is in preparation for
debate by the Fisheries Council on Oct. 14, 1996, on the next phase of the
Multi-Annual Guideline Program (MAGP). [Agence Europe via Reuters]
        Japanese Tuna Trawler Detained. On Sept. 13, 1996, the U.S.
Coast Guard detained the Japanese tuna long-liner Taiko-Maru on the
suspicion of illegal fishing in waters 196 miles off Guam. [Dow Jones News,
Assoc Press]
        Seafood Imports. For the first six months of 1996, U.S. seafood
import volume was similar to 1995, but with a 3.4% decrease in value. About
28% of import volume came from Canada and Thailand. During the first six
months of 1996, import volume increased substantially from Russia (up 59%
from 1995), Mexico (up 23%), Chile (up 22%), and the Philippines (up 16%).
Meanwhile, import value increase only for Canada (up 5%), but declined for
Taiwan and Russia (down about 20% each), Mexico (down 15%), China (down
12%), and the Philippines and Ecuador (down about 10% each). [Seafood
Market Analyst, 9/13/96]
        U.S. Participates in First NAFO Meeting. On Sept. 6-13, 1996, the
United States participated as a contracting party in its first Northwest Atlantic
Fisheries Organization (NAFO) meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. NAFO
conservation and management measures for 1997 were agreed to at this
meeting. The European Union share of catch from NAFO waters was fixed at
65.4%. [Agence Europe via Reuters]
        Exxon Valdez Ruling. On Sept. 11, 1996, U.S. District Judge H.
Russel Holland again rejected Exxon Corp.'s petition to reconsider the Judge's
earlier ruling that its $5 billion oil spill punitive damages judgment not be
reduced according to terms of a secret agreement with 7 Seattle seafood
processors. [Assoc Press]
        Bluefin Tuna. On Sept. 12, 1996, NMFS published an advanced
notice of proposed rulemaking including 1) requiring annual permits,
establishing mutually exclusive sport and commercial categories, and
recovering administrative costs with a permit fee; 2) modifying angling
category quotas to address geographic equity concerns; 3) establishing
mandatory self-reporting for recreational catch; 4) modifying catch
requirements for the incidental longline fishery; 5) establishing measures to
implement any quota modifications following November 1996 international tuna
meetings; and 6) developing methods to improve quota monitoring and
enforcement. [NMFS advisory notice, Fed. Register]
        Magnuson Act. On the evening of Sept. 18, 1996, S. 39 -- the
Sustainable Fisheries Act -- was brought to the Senate floor for debate, with
S. 39 passing the Senate on Sept. 19 by a vote of 100-0. This measure would
extend the authorization of appropriations for three years and address
concerns including individual fishing quotas, overfishing, bycatch reduction,
and fish habitat protection. The House faces a decision on whether to accept
S. 39 as passed by the Senate or try to complete a hurried conference on
H.R.39/S. 39. [Assoc Press, Congr. Record]
        Salmon Along the Pacific Coast
        Environmental Assessment for Salmon Regulation. On Sept. 19,
1996, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 3-0 vote, overturned a 1994
ruling by U.S. District Judge Malcolm Marsh and declared that the role of
NMFS in authorizing State salmon regulations was a major federal action
requiring preparation of an environmental assessment. The original court
challenge had been filed by Pacific northwest aluminum companies concerned
that state regulations could result in less water available for power generation,
raising electric utility rates. In a related ruling, the appeals court affirmed that
informal consultation between NMFS and the States was sufficient, and that
the states did not require a formal NMFS permit to issue regulations. [Assoc
        Independent Science Group. On Sept. 18, 1996, the chairman of the
Independent Science Group presented a 2-hour summary of the Group's
preliminary findings to the Northwest Power Planning Council, meeting in
Clarkston, WA. ISG recommendations in their 500-page "Return to the River"
report included 1) adopt an integrated approach to salmon recovery based on
an understanding of salmon life cycles rather than a technological approach,
2) protect salmon as natural collections of populations, 3) manage salmon
stocks with a more complete understanding of the limitations that salmon
migratory behavior could place on river operations, 4) reduce sources of fish
mortality throughout the ecosystem, 5) recognize the importance of ocean and
estuary dynamics and make management decisions accordingly, 6) align
future management decisions with the 'normative ecosystem' concept and
evaluate recovery actions against this standard, and 7) that the free-flowing
Hanford Reach of the Columbia River be designated a 'salmon reserve.' [Assoc
        BPA Salmon Funding Agreement. On Sept. 17, 1996, the Clinton
Administration announced the signing of a 6-year memorandum of
understanding (MOU) with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) limiting
ratepayer costs for fish and wildlife to no more than $435 million annually,
along with creation of a $325 million contingency fund, funded by federal
taxpayers, to pay for additional water spills in low-water years. About $252
million of BPA's annual costs would be for capital improvements, with the
remaining $183 million being lost power-generation revenues. The MOU also
requires 5 federal agencies to consult with 13 Native American tribes and 4
northwest state governments concerning salmon recovery efforts. [Assoc
Press, Greenwire]
        Pacific Salmon Treaty. On Sept. 14, 1996, British Columbia Premier
Glen Clark released a 6-point proposal to reinvigorate U.S.-Canada
negotiations. The 6 points include 1) agreement to develop a common
conservation approach; 2) support a coast-wide solution to equity concerns
that encompasses regional differences; 3) commit to arbitrating any issues
not resolved by Dec. 15, 1996; 4) public release of proposals from the last
(Ambassador Beeby's) mediation; 5) agreement that in the absence of full
resolution of treaty issues, Beeby's proposals will bind the development of
fishery plans; and 6) establish a functional dispute-settlement mechanism.
Details of this proposal were sent to state governors on Sept. 13. [Assoc
Press, Reuters]
        Taura Syndrome Virus. In mid-September 1996, SC state officials
granted 6 shrimp mariculture facilities affected by taura syndrome virus
permission to sell their shrimp for human consumption but not as bait.
Subsequently, the 6 shrimp facilities dropped their lawsuit against the State
for previously ordering $3 million worth of shrimp to be destroyed. [Assoc
Freshwater Fisheries
        Whirling Disease. On Sept. 23, 1996, Montana State Univ. will open a
Wild Trout Research Laboratory, to be managed by the Montana University
Water Center to coordinate state and federal research for the Whirling Disease
Coalition. On Sept. 19, 1996, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW)
released a report identifying what CAGW considers to be examples of
pork-barrel projects included in fiscal year 1997 appropriations bills --
$900,000 for the Montana State Univ. project was one item specifically
identified. [Assoc Press, CAGW press release]
        Zebra Mussel Costs. On Sept. 16, 1996, a Columbus (OH) Dispatch
story reported on a study completed by an Ohio State agricultural economist
and the Director of the National Zebra Mussel Information Clearinghouse that
estimated zebra mussel control costs in the United States and Canada
totalled about $300 million between 1989 and 1995, and have stabilized at
about $30 million per year currently in the Great Lakes. [Assoc Press]
        PCBs in Fish. In the Sept. 12, 1996 issue of the New England Journal
of Medicine, psychologists reported that children exposed to PCBs before
birth (mothers had elevated PCB levels from eating PCB-tainted fish from Lake
Michigan) had trouble reading when they reached school age. [Wash. Post,
Wall Street J., and NY Times via Greenwire]
        Oregon River Lawsuit. In early September 1996, Northwest
Environmental Advocates and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center
filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in U.S.
District Court, Seattle, demanding that EPA force Oregon to increase
attention to 870 rivers and streams identified as failing to meet federal water
quality standards. [Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce via Greenwire]
        Items in this summary are excerpted from a variety of information
sources. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is not responsible
for the accuracy of the various news items.

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