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Subject: Rule: CRS Summary - 1/9/98 - Part 1 of 3
From: Kate Wing <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 9 Jan 1998 13:12:30 -0500

text/plain (240 lines)

Fisheries and Marine Mammals: Most Recent Developments -- 1/09/98
Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division
Congressional Research Service

     New info and changes since 12/19/97 are bracketed {...}
     New info and changes since 1/08/98 are double bracketed {{...}}

Marine Fisheries
     IFQ Meetings.  On Jan. 26-27, 1998, the National Research Council's
Committee to Review Individual Fishing Quotas will be taking public comment
at meetings in New Orleans, LA. [National Research Council press release]
     {Bluefin Tuna/Billfish Advisory Panel Meetings.  On Jan 11-12, 1998
(Atlantic bluefin tuna) and Jan. 12-13, 1998 (billfish), advisory panels will
in Baltimore, MD, to assist NMFS in evaluating options for management of
these fisheries.  The bluefin tuna panel will discuss quota allocation and
control issues, while the billfish panel will discuss implementation of the 1997
ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas)
recommendations on blue and white marlin.} [NOAA press release]
     {{FL Fisheries Management Consolidation.  On Jan. 8, 1998, the FL
Supreme Court ruled by a 4-3 vote that an inadequate ballot summary
disqualified a petition to merge the Game and Freshwater Fish Commission
with the Marine Fisheries Commission to form a new Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission from appearing on the November 1998 state ballot.
The summary was viewed as not sufficiently informing the public that the
merger transfer power by placing marine fishery management in an
independent agency, differing from the current situation where Marine
Fisheries Commission actions can be vetoed by the Governor and Cabinet and
the Legislature can exercise exclusive power to regulate marine fisheries.  On
Jan. 12, 1998, a similar proposal will be considered by the FL Constitution
Revision Commission, which can place the issue on the ballot without state
Supreme Court concurrence.}} [Assoc Press]
     {{RI Oil Spill Damage.  On Jan. 7, 1998, RI Dept. of Environmental
Management officials announced preliminary estimates of mortalities when the
barge North Cape spilled about 828,000 gallons of fuel oil after grounding on
Jan. 19, 1996, on Moonstone Beach, RI.  Total kills included more than 12
million lobsters, 82 million crabs, 679 million mussels, and 81 million clams.
However, marine life began returning to affected waters soon after the oil
dissipated.  A total of 53 contractual studies costing more than $2 million
were funded by Eklof Marine Corp., the company responsible for the spill.  On
Jan. 8, 1998, a plea agreement was announced between Eklof Marine Corp.
and the state and federal governments, with Eklof paying $9.5 million in fines
and damages.  However, this agreement does not provide restitution sought by
RI lobstermen, who petitioned the Superior Court for a delay in the imposition
of fines but lost.}} [Assoc Press]
     {Radioactive Waste.  On Jan. 7, 1998, the Norwegian paper
Aftenposten reported that Norway's Radiation Protection Board had detected an
8-fold increase in the radioactive element technetium in the past year in
ocean waters off western Norway.  Norwegian officials attributed this change
to increased emissions from the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in
northwestern England.} [Dow Jones News, Assoc Press]
     {Year of the Ocean.  On Jan. 6, 1998, a news conference was held at
the U.S. Capitol to heighten attention to 1998 as the "Year of the Ocean."  At
the news conference, a petition signed by more than 1,600 scientists from 65
countries endorsed increased attention to ocean issues, such as overfishing,
pollution, and coastal development.} [Assoc Press]
     {Coral Grounding.  In early January 1998, the 50-foot commercial
fishing vessel, Italian Stallion, went hard aground in the Rock Key sanctuary
preservation area, about 5 miles south of Key West, FL.  The vessel was
pulled from the reef on Jan. 6, with considerable damage to coral and reef
structure.} [Assoc Press]
     {NC Bluefin Tuna Tags.  On Jan. 2, 1998, NMFS announced a pilot
program requiring that a catch report card be completed for all bluefin tuna
caught by NC recreational anglers in 1998, that these fish be tagged before
they leave the fishing vessel, and that anglers participate in a dockside survey
conducted by the NC Dept. of Marine Fisheries.} [Assoc Press, NOAA press
     Fishmeal Plant Auction.  On Dec. 30, 1997, the Peruvian government
will auction four fishmeal plants, representing the final phase in privatization
Pescaperu (one of the largest state-owned entities). [Dow Jones News]
     {Russia-Japan Fishery Accord.  On Dec. 30, 1997, Russian and
Japanese negotiators concluded 33 months of negotiations by agreeing in
principle to fishing quotas totaling 2,252 metric tons and other conditions to
govern Japanese fishing in waters near Russian-held South Kurile Islands,
north of Hokkaido, Japan.  Official documents are likely to be signed in late
January 1998, with fishing by 45 vessels to begin in February 1998.  Japan will
compensate Russia with 20 million yen in cash along with fishing equipment
valued at 15 million yen.  Japan will also be able to buy an annual quota to
harvest 20,000 to 30,000 metric tons of fish, including Alaska pollock.  No
Kamchatka crab can be harvested until stock conditions improve.  Harvest
quotas and compensation will be adjusted annually.  In addition, Japan is
providing several hundred million yen in financial assistance to the disputed
islands in 1998.  A Hokkaido fisheries association will oversee Japanese
fishing operations, with the Russian coast guard acting if unlicensed fishing
vessels fish in the area illegally.} [Dow Jones News, Interfax]
     {Aboriginal Maritime Claims.  On Dec. 29, 1997, Australia's Native
Title Tribunal reported that the first of about 120 aboriginal claims to
and coastal areas have been referred to federal court, with some initial
decisions anticipated as early as January 1998.  Claims, many seeking
exclusive access for aboriginal peoples, included rich fishing waters and
portions of the Great Barrier Reef.} [Reuters]
     {Illegal Tuna Sale.  In late December 1997, 3 NC fishermen agreed to
pay fines totaling about $20,000 for illegal possession and planned sale of
Atlantic bluefin tuna.  The tuna had been mutilated to conceal that they were
bluefin rather than a less-regulated species.} [Assoc Press]
     {Red Snapper Report.  On Dec. 22, 1997, NMFS released a
"Consolidated Report on the Peer Review of Red Snapper Research and
Management in the Gulf of Mexico."  The combined report of 3 peer review
panels concludes that this red snapper stock is severely overfished and that
fishing effort and bycatch of juvenile red snapper by the shrimp fishery must be
reduced.  In addition to reductions in the directed catch of red snapper, the
peer review panel recommendations included the use of bycatch reduction
devices, time-area closures, and bycatch quotas or other effort/capacity
reductions in the shrimp fishery.} [NOAA press release]
     {Pacific Halibut Projections.  On Dec. 20, 1997, International Pacific
Halibut Commission (IPHC) biologists announced their recommended 1998
harvest quotas.  If recommended quotas are adopted, the 1998 Pacific halibut
catch could set a record, with the total harvest rising by as much as 30% to
86 million pounds.  The previous record harvest was about 75 million pounds in
1987.  The increased quotas are attributed to use of a new population model
by the IPHC, indicating more halibut are available that previously thought.
Final quotas will be decided at IPHC meetings on Jan. 27-30, 1998, in
Anchorage, AK.} [Assoc Press]
     {Soft TEDs Enforcement.  On Dec. 19, 1997, NMFS began enforcing
its prohibition against use of certain "soft" turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in
shrimp trawls and a companion requirement that large try nets be equipped
with rigid TEDs.  This enforcement commenced one-year after the regulations
were promulgated.} [Assoc Press]
     {Coral Reef Damage.  On Dec. 19, 1997, Mexico's Attorney General
for Environmental Protection filed charges against the Norway Cruise Line after
its vessel Leeward allegedly severely damaged more than 400 square meters
of the Great Maya Reef near Cancun on Dec. 16.  The damaged site had
recently been declared to be an internationally protected area.} [Reuters,
Assoc Press]
     Essential Fish Habitat.  On Dec. 19, 1997, NMFS published interim
final regulations to assist Regional Fishery Management Councils in identifying
and protecting essential fish habitat (EFH).  Additional public comment will be
accepted for 60 days.  {Four areas of focus include: 1) all fishery management
plans must identify habitat used by all life history stages of each managed
species; 2) potential adverse effects of all fishing-equipment-types on EFH
must be assessed; 3) non-fishing sources of adverse impacts that could affect
the quantity or quality of EFH must be identified; and 4) EFH conservation and
enhancement measures should be identified.}  Regional Councils have until Oct.
11, 1998, to recommend modifications of federal or state actions that may
adversely affect fish habitat.
[Assoc Press, NOAA press release, Fed. Register]
     Domoic Acid Symposium.  On Dec. 18, 1997, the Institute for Marine
Biosciences (IMB) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, will hold a one-day
symposium on domoic acid, in recognition of the 10th anniversary of this
shellfish toxin's identification. [IMB press release]
     HACCP Deadline.  On Dec. 18, 1997, new U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)
regulations to promote seafood sanitation and safety become effective for
seafood processors and importers providing products for the U.S. market.
Critics remain concerned because the regulations do not apply to fishing
vessels or retail stores. [Assoc Press]
     "White Meat" Feud.  On Dec. 17, 1997, the Wall Street Journal
reported that the Maine Lobster Promotion Council and the National Pork
Producers Council had reached an out-of-court settlement over use of the
words "white meat" in advertising.  The National Pork Producers Council had
sued the Maine Lobster Promotion Council over its use of the slogan "The
Ultimate White Meat" as unfairly infringing on the Pork Council's use of the
slogan "The Other White Meat."  The agreement appeared to require that the
Lobster Council make cosmetic changes in its advertising. [Assoc Press,
     Great White Shark Protection.  On Dec. 17, 1997, Australia declared
the great white shark to be a protected species. [Assoc Press]
     Destructive Fishing Practices Workshop.  The Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation Marine Resources Conservation Working Group has scheduled a
Workshop on the Impacts of Destructive Fishing Practices on the Marine
Environment for Dec. 16-18, 1997, in Hong Kong. [Workshop brochure]
     Sharks and Cancer.  On Dec. 16, 1997, officials Magainin
Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported the first test of the drug, squalamine, on a
human cancer patient.  Squalamine, prepared from an extract of shark liver
tissue, was injected to treat a patient with colon cancer at San Antonio, TX's
Cancer Therapy & Research Center.  The effectiveness of the squalamine
treatment will be assessed in about 6 weeks.  A second trial of the drug is
scheduled for Georgetown Univ. Hospital, Washington, DC. [Reuters]
     VA Shad Moratorium.  On Dec. 16, 1997, the VA Marine Resources
Commission voted 5-1 to continue a 4-year moratorium on commercial fishing
for shad, based on the limited knowledge of the health of this resource.
[Assoc Press]
     Mercury Contamination.  On Dec. 16, 1997, Citizens for a Better
Environment (CBE) and the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC)
released two reports: 1) "Gone Fishing:  How the Failure to Reduce Mercury
Emissions Threatens Americans' Health" by California Communities Against
Toxics, and 2) "Catching the Limit:  Mercury Contamination of America's
Food" by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  These reports allege that
federal and state officials have failed to protect the public from the dangers
mercury in the environment.  Nationwide, more than 1,660 waterbodies
(including 693 in MN and 389 in WI) are reported to be affected by fish
consumption advisories relating to mercury, nine states have statewide
advisories against consumption of certain fish due to mercury, and FDA is
reported to have listing the top five foods containing mercury as canned tuna,
haddock, tuna-noodle casserole, shrimp, and fish sticks.  In mid-December
1997, the NJ Depts. of Health and Senior Services, Environmental Protection,
and Agriculture issued a brochure, "A Woman's Guide to Eating Fish and
Seafood", that includes a warning against eating excessive canned tuna fish.
Federal Food and Drug Administration officials were reported as characterizing
this advice as extreme.  {On Dec. 19, 1997, the Environmental Protection
Agency released the results of a nationwide study on mercury pollution,
concluding that most Americans face little danger from mercury poisoning.
However, caution was advised for pregnant women living in communities where
subsistence fishing is practiced.  EPA offered no new policy
recommendations, and did not act to limit sources of mercury emissions.}
[CBE/ELPC press release, EWG press release, Assoc Press]
     OMC Manufacturing Realignment.  On Dec. 16, 1997, Outboard
Marine Corporation (OMC) announced that it will begin to realign its fiberglass
fishing boat manufacturing operations on Jan. 1, 1998, by moving its saltwater
fishing boat manufacturing operations from its Murfreesboro, TN, facility to its
Columbia, SC, facility. [OMC press release, Dow Jones News]
     Seafood Restaurant Purchase.  On Dec. 15, 1997, Arthur Treacher's
Inc. (Jacksonville, FL) announced the signing of a letter of intent to purchase
Seattle Crab Co. and its Skipper's Seafood 'N Chowder House chain of
restaurants.  Combined holdings of 202 company-owned and franchised
restaurants will serve east and northwest markets as the third largest
quick-service seafood chains in the United States. [Arthur Treacher's
Inc./Seattle Crab Co. press release, Assoc Press]

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