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Thursday, July 29, 2010

National Park System: Establishing New Units


Carol Hardy Vincent
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

The National Park System includes 392 diverse units administered by the National Park Service (NPS) of the Department of the Interior. Units generally are added to the National Park System by act of Congress, although the President may proclaim national monuments on land that is federally managed for inclusion in the System. Before enacting a law to add a unit, Congress might first enact a law requiring the NPS to study an area, typically to assess its national significance, suitability and feasibility, and other management options. Important areas also are preserved outside the National Park System through programs managed or supported by the NPS. This report will be updated if the processes, criteria, and issues change. 


Date of Report: July 22, 2010
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: RS20158
Price: $29.95


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Monday, July 26, 2010

Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues


Carol Hardy Vincent
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Over the past 25 years, Congress has established 49 National Heritage Areas (NHAs) to commemorate, conserve, and promote areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, cultural, and recreational resources. NHAs are partnerships among the National Park Service (NPS), states, and local communities, where the NPS supports state and local conservation through federal recognition, seed money, and technical assistance. NHAs are not part of the National Park System, where lands are federally owned and managed. Rather, lands within heritage areas typically remain in state, local, or private ownership or a combination thereof. Heritage areas have been supported as protecting lands and traditions and promoting tourism and community revitalization, but opposed as potentially burdensome, costly, or leading to federal control over nonfederal lands. This report focuses on heritage areas designated by Congress (not other entities) and related issues and legislation.

NHAs might receive funding from a wide variety of sources, and Congress and the NPS do not ordinarily expect to provide NHAs with permanent federal funding. Congress typically determines federal funding for NHAs in annual Interior appropriations laws. NHAs can use federal funds for many purposes, including staffing, planning, and projects. The FY2010 appropriation for the NPS for assistance to heritage areas was $17.8 million. The Obama Administration is seeking $9.0 million for FY2011.

There is no comprehensive statute that establishes criteria for designating NHAs or provides standards for their funding and management. Rather, particulars for each area are provided in its enabling legislation. Congress designates a management entity, usually nonfederal, to coordinate the work of the partners. This entity typically develops and implements a plan for managing the NHA, in collaboration with other parties. Once approved by the Secretary of the Interior, the management plan becomes the blueprint for managing the area.

P.L. 111-11, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, included provisions to create nine new NHAs, reauthorize one existing area, study two areas for possible heritage designation, and amend four existing heritage areas. Other 111th Congress bills seek to establish new heritage areas, study areas for possible heritage designation, or amend existing ones. The 110th Congress enacted legislation (P.L. 110-229) to establish three new NHAs, study the feasibility of establishing two others, increase the total authorization of appropriations for several existing NHAs, require an evaluation of several existing NHAs, and amend other heritage areas.

The sizeable number of existing NHAs and proposals in recent years to study and designate new ones fostered measures in the 110th Congress (e.g., S. 278, S. 2180, and S. 3213) to provide criteria for designating NHAs, standards for their management, and limits on federal funding support. Some opponents believe that NHAs present numerous problems and challenges and that Congress should oppose efforts to designate new areas and/or to create a system of NHAs.


Date of Report: July 9, 2010
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: RL33462
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Carbon Capture: A Technology Assessment


Peter Folger, Coordinator
Specialist in Energy and Natural Resources Policy

Carbon capture and sequestration (or carbon capture and storage, CCS) is widely seen as a critical strategy for limiting atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)—the principal "greenhouse gas" linked to global climate change—from power plants and other large industrial sources. This report focuses on the first component of a CCS system, the CO2 capture process. Unlike the other two components of CCS, transportation and geologic storage, the CO2 capture component of CCS is heavily technology-dependent. For CCS to succeed at reducing CO2 emissions from a significant fraction of large sources in the United States, CO2 capture technologies would need to be deployed widely. Widespread commercial deployment will likely depend, in part, on the cost of the technology deployed to capture CO2. This report assesses prospects for improved, lowercost technologies for each of the three current approaches to CO2 capture: post-combustion capture; pre-combustion capture; and oxy-combustion capture.

While all three approaches are capable of high CO2 capture efficiencies (typically about 90%), the major drawbacks of current processes are their high cost and the large energy requirements for operation. Another drawback in terms of their availability for greenhouse gas mitigation is that at present, there are still no full-scale applications of CO2 capture on a coal-fired or gas-fired power plant (i.e., a scale of several hundred megawatts of plant capacity). To address the current lack of demonstrated capabilities for full-scale CO2 capture at power plants, a number of large-scale demonstration projects at both coal combustion and gasification-based power plants are planned or underway in the United States and elsewhere. Substantial research and development (R&D) activities are also underway in the United States and elsewhere to develop and commercialize lower-cost capture systems with smaller energy penalties. Current R&D activities include development and testing of new or improved solvents that can lower the cost of current postcombustion and pre-combustion capture, as well as research on a variety of potential "breakthrough technologies" such as novel solvents, sorbents, membranes, and oxyfuel systems that hold promise for even lower-cost capture systems.

In general, the focus of most current R&D activities is on cost reduction rather than additional gains in the efficiency of CO2 capture (which can result in cost increases rather than decreases). Key questions regarding the outcomes from these R&D efforts are when advanced CO2 capture systems will be available for commercial rollout, and how much cheaper they will be compared to current technology. "Technology roadmaps" developed by governmental and private-sector organizations in the United States and elsewhere anticipate that CO2 capture will be available for commercial deployment at power plants by 2020. A number of roadmaps also project that some novel, lower-cost technologies will be commercial in the 2020 time frame. Such projections acknowledge, however, that this will require aggressive and sustained efforts to advance promising concepts to commercial reality.

Achieving significant cost reductions will likely require not only a vigorous and sustained level of R&D, but also a significant market for CO2 capture technologies to generate a substantial level of commercial deployment. At present such a market does not yet exist. While various types of incentive programs can accelerate the development and deployment of CO2 capture technology, actions that significantly limit emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere ultimately are needed to realize substantial and sustained reductions in the future cost of CO2 capture
.


Date of Report: July 19, 2010
Number of Pages: 99
Order Number: R41325
Price: $29.95

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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Selected Issues for Congress


Curry L. Hagerty, Coordinator
Specialist in Energy and Natural Resources Policy

Jonathan L. Ramseur, Coordinator
Specialist in Environmental Policy

On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire occurred on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. This resulted in 11 worker fatalities, a massive oil release, and a national response effort in the Gulf of Mexico region by the federal and state governments as well as BP. Based on estimates from the Flow Rate Technical Group, which is led by the U.S. Geological Survey, the 2010 Gulf spill has become the largest oil spill in U.S. waters. The oil spill has damaged natural resources and has had regional economic impacts. In addition, questions have been raised as to whether offshore regulation of oil exploration has kept pace with the increasingly complex technologies needed to explore and develop deeper waters.

Crude oil has been washing into marshes and estuaries and onto beaches in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Oil has killed wildlife, and efforts are underway to save oil-coated birds. The most immediate economic impact of the oil spill has been on the Gulf fishing industry: commercial and recreational fishing have faced extensive prohibitions within the federal waters of the Gulf exclusive economic zone. The fishing industry, including seafood processing and related wholesale and retail businesses, supports over 200,000 jobs with related economic activity of $5.5 billion. Other immediate economic impacts include a decline in tourism. On the other hand, jobs related to cleanup activities could mitigate some of the losses in the fishing and tourism industry.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE), formerly known as the Minerals Management Service (MMS), and the U.S. Coast Guard are the primary regulators of drilling activity. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has multiple responsibilities, with a representative serving as the vice-chair of the National Response Team and Regional Response Teams. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has responsibilities with respect to the economic impacts of the spill; its role so far has been primarily that of an observer, but that may change once the scope of impacts can be better understood.

BOEMRE/MMS is also the lead regulatory authority for offshore oil and gas leasing, including collection of royalty payments. Its regulations generally require that a company with leasing obligations demonstrate that proposed oil and gas activity conforms to federal laws and regulations, is safe, prevents waste, does not unreasonably interfere with other uses of the outer continental shelf, and does not cause impermissible harm or damage to the human, marine, or coastal environments. On May 13, 2010, the Department of the Interior announced that Secretary Ken Salazar had initiated the process of reorganizing the MMS administratively to separate the financial and regulatory missions of the agency. The Coast Guard generally overseas the safety of systems at the platform level of a mobile offshore drilling unit.

Several issues for Congress have emerged as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. What lessons should be drawn from the incident? What technological and regulatory changes may be needed to meet risks peculiar to drilling in deeper water? How should Congress distribute costs associated with a catastrophic oil spill? What interventions may be necessary to ensure recovery of Gulf resources and amenities? What does the Deepwater Horizon incident imply for national energy policy, and the trade-offs between energy needs, risks of deepwater drilling, and protection of natural resources and amenities? This report provides an overview of selected issues related to the Deepwater Horizon incident and is not intended to be comprehensive. It will be updated to reflect emerging issues.


Date of Report: July 15, 2010
Number of Pages: 51
Order Number: R41262
Price: $29.95

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Seafood Marketing: Combating Fraud and Deception


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Congress is facing questions of whether the law applicable to fraudulent seafood sales and marketing is clear and enforceable, whether agency enforcement efforts targeting seafood fraud are adequate, and whether the penalties for seafood fraud are a deterrent. Congress may become involved in oversight of how federal agencies are addressing these issues, and legislation related to these concerns may be considered.

With increased seafood imports and decreased monitoring, fraud and deception in seafood marketing is becoming more widespread. The flesh of many fish species is similar in taste and texture and, therefore, it is difficult to identify species in fillet form, especially after preparation for consumption. Thus, it can be relatively easy to substitute an inexpensive species for one of higher value. Inaccurate (low) counts or net weights ("short weighting") result in consumers receiving less for their money than advertised and anticipated. Overbreading may cause consumers to pay shrimp prices for excess bread crumbs. Excessive amounts of glaze (overglazing) can deliberately be used to increase the apparent weight, and therefore the apparent value, of the delivered product. In addition, some new treatment procedures by the seafood industry, such as carbon monoxide/tasteless smoke, are being questioned for their potential to deceive consumers. Since food safety and bioterrorism concerns have taken precedence, regulatory agencies have been less able to maintain control of economic fraud.

The extent of this fraud is not well documented. The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) has undertaken an initiative to promote economic integrity within the seafood industry, concentrating on three primary areas:

• transshipment of products subject to antidumping and countervailing duties;

• mislabeling of products or species substitution; and

• mislabeling of weights or counts of products.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the primary agency responsible for ensuring that food sold in interstate commerce is properly labeled. FDA's jurisdiction covers seafood and the agency operates an oversight compliance program, the Seafood Regulatory Program, for fishery products. Responsibility for a food product's safety, wholesomeness, identity, and economic integrity rests with the processor or importer, who must comply with regulations promulgated under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA).

In the 111th Congress, provisions were included in H.R. 759 and H.R. 2749 that proposed amending the FFDCA to restrict the use of carbon monoxide in meat, poultry, and seafood. However, on July 29, 2009, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce reported H.R. 2749, amended to remove the section relating to carbon monoxide. S. 1406 was reported by the Senate Committee on Appropriations with report language encouraging FDA to more aggressively combat fraud in segments of the seafood industry. This report reviews recent incidents of fraud and deception and examines related policy issues.


Date of Report: July 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: RL34124
Price: $29.95

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Ballast Water Management to Combat Invasive Species


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

The 111th Congress may elect to consider legislation (H.R. 500 and S. 237) that has been introduced to amend and reauthorize the Non-indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990 to further study vessel ballast water management standards and modify how ballast water is handled.

In recent years, many people have become increasingly aware that the globalization of trade, the increased speed of travel, the massive volume of cargo shipments, and rising tourism have combined to increase the chance of accidental introductions of foreign species into the United States. Aquatic species arrive through a variety of mechanisms—unintentionally when attached to vessel hulls or carried in vessel ballast water and intentionally when imported for aquaria display, as live seafood for human consumption, or as a transplant to increase sport fishing opportunities.

The arrival of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes and their subsequent damage to city water supplies and electric utilities has focused significant attention on ballast water discharge by cargo ships as a high-risk mechanism for species invasion. New management efforts attempt to address this concern.

In late August 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard published proposed regulations to establish quantitative standards for ballast water treatment. The proposed standards would initially follow standards developed by the International Maritime Organization. In a subsequent phase, the quantitative standards would become much more stringent, given sufficient technological development to support achievement of the higher standards. The proposed Coast Guard standards would not preempt existing state ballast water management standards.

In response to litigation, the Environmental Protection Agency published regulations on December 28, 2008, to regulate ballast water discharge under the Clean Water Act through Vessel General Permits. Subsequently, P.L. 110-299 provided a two-year moratorium for commercial fishing vessels and non-recreational vessels less than 79 feet in length from the ballast water discharge provisions, and the 111th Congress is considering legislation (S. 3372 and H.R. 5301) to further extend this moratorium through December 18, 2013.

This report provides background on various approaches to ballast water management and reviews current ballast water management laws and program.


Date of Report: July 8, 2010
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: RL32344
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Status and Issues


Megan Stubbs
Analyst in Agricultural Conservation and Natural Resources Policy

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides farmers with financial and technical assistance to plan and implement soil and water conservation practices. EQIP is the largest agriculture conservation financial assistance program for working lands. EQIP was first authorized in 1996 and was most recently revised by Section 2501 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, the 2008 farm bill). It is a mandatory spending program (i.e., not subject to annual appropriations) and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Funding is currently authorized to grow to $1.75 billion in FY2012. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pasture, non-industrial private forestland, and other land on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed through an EQIP contract.

With the 111th Congress facing tighter budget constraints, EQIP could face similar challenges with a potential reduction in mandatory funding levels and a continuing backlog of unfunded applications. A change in income limitations along with a new waiver created in the 2008 farm bill could also raise issues for the program. EQIP will also continue to face challenges in measuring environmental and program accomplishments.



Date of Report: July 8, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: R40197
Price: $29.95

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The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 111th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

M. Lynne Corn
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Pervaze A. Sheikh
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Robert Meltz
Legislative Attorney

Kristina Alexander
Legislative Attorney

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1543) has been one of the more contentious environmental laws. This may stem from its strict substantive provisions, which can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. Under ESA, species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) can be listed as endangered or threatened according to assessments of their risk of extinction. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. ESA may also be controversial because dwindling species are usually harbingers of broader ecosystem decline. The most common cause of species listing is habitat loss. ESA is considered a primary driver of large-scale ecosystem restoration issues.

The 111th Congress has considered whether to revoke ESA regulations promulgated in the waning days of the Bush Administration that would alter when federal agency consultation is required. In addition, legislation related to global climate change includes provisions that would allocate funds to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species program and/or to related funds to assist species adaptation to climate change. Other major issues concerning ESA in recent years have included the role of science in decision-making, critical habitat (CH) designation, protection by and incentives for property owners, and appropriate protection of listed species, among others.

The authorization for spending under ESA expired on October 1, 1992. The prohibitions and requirements of ESA remain in force, even in the absence of an authorization, and funds have been appropriated to implement the administrative provisions of ESA in each subsequent fiscal year. Proposals to reauthorize and extensively amend ESA were last considered in the 109th Congress, but none was enacted. No legislative proposals were introduced in the 110th Congress to reauthorize the ESA.

In the first session of the 111th Congress, P.L. 111-8 contained language authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw or reissue (1) revisions to the ESA Section 7 consultation regulations promulgated by the Bush Administration and (2) a December 2008 special rule that outlined protections afforded polar bears. In addition, P.L. 111-11 included provisions (1) authorizing the implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement, providing for the reintroduction of Chinook salmon, and (2) amending P.L. 106-392 to extend the authorizations for the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basin endangered fish recovery programs through FY2023. P.L. 111-88 appropriated about $281 million for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species and related programs for FY2010.

This report discusses oversight issues and legislation introduced in the 111th Congress to address ESA implementation and management of endangered and threatened species.


Date of Report: July 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 29
Order Number: R40185
Price: $29.95

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Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Issues in the 111th Congress


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Harold F. Upton
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Fish and marine mammals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas; many federal laws and regulations guide their management as well as the management of their habitat.

Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. States generally have jurisdiction within 3 miles of the coast. Beyond state jurisdiction and out to 200 miles, the federal government manages fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) through eight regional fishery management councils. Beyond 200 miles, the United States participates in international agreements relating to specific areas or species. The 111th Congress may oversee implementation of the MSFCMA as well as address individual habitat and management concerns for U.S. commercial and sport fisheries to achieve a sustainable balance between resource use and protection. Current concerns include whether additional effort should be taken to eliminate overfishing, how fishery disaster assistance should be funded, and whether to more aggressively encourage fishing vessel capacity reduction and limited access privilege programs. The 111th Congress has enacted P.L. 111-5, including language to broaden the basis for determining import increases for trade adjustment assistance for fishing and aquaculture to include wild-caught fish and seafood in addition to farmraised fish and seafood. In addition, P.L. 111-11 authorized implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement providing for the reintroduction of Chinook salmon; extended the authorizations for the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basin endangered fish recovery programs through FY2023; directed the Secretary of Commerce to establish an ocean acidification program within NOAA, and to establish an interagency committee to develop an ocean acidification research and monitoring plan; and reauthorized (through FY2015) and amend the Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act of 2000.

Aquaculture—the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals and plants in a controlled environment—is expanding rapidly abroad, with more modest growth in the United States. In the United States, important species cultured include catfish, salmon, shellfish, and trout. The 111th Congress has enacted P.L. 111-5, including language (1) providing as much as $50 million in total assistance to aquaculture producers for losses associated with high feed input costs during the 2008 calendar year and (2) including National Fish Hatcheries as eligible for $165 million in resource management funding as well as $115 million in construction funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). With few exceptions, the MMPA prohibits harm or harassment ("take") of marine mammals, unless restrictive permits are obtained. It also addresses specific situations of concern, such as dolphin mortality, primarily associated with the eastern tropical Pacific tuna fishery. The 111th Congress may consider bills to reauthorize and amend the MMPA as well as measures to address specific marine mammal habitat and management concerns, such as how to deal with the effects of increasing noise in the ocean. 
.


Date of Report: July 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 35
Order Number: R40172
Price: $29.95

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Monday, July 12, 2010

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 111th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

M. Lynne Corn
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Pervaze A. Sheikh
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Robert Meltz
Legislative Attorney

Kristina Alexander
Legislative Attorney

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1543) has been one of the more contentious environmental laws. This may stem from its strict substantive provisions, which can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. Under ESA, species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) can be listed as endangered or threatened according to assessments of their risk of extinction. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. ESA may also be controversial because dwindling species are usually harbingers of broader ecosystem decline. The most common cause of species listing is habitat loss. ESA is considered a primary driver of large-scale ecosystem restoration issues.

The 111th Congress has considered whether to revoke ESA regulations promulgated in the waning days of the Bush Administration that would alter when federal agency consultation is required. In addition, legislation related to global climate change includes provisions that would allocate funds to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species program and/or to related funds to assist species adaptation to climate change. Other major issues concerning ESA in recent years have included the role of science in decision-making, critical habitat (CH) designation, protection by and incentives for property owners, and appropriate protection of listed species, among others.

The authorization for spending under ESA expired on October 1, 1992. The prohibitions and requirements of ESA remain in force, even in the absence of an authorization, and funds have been appropriated to implement the administrative provisions of ESA in each subsequent fiscal year. Proposals to reauthorize and extensively amend ESA were last considered in the 109th Congress, but none was enacted. No legislative proposals were introduced in the 110th Congress to reauthorize the ESA.

In the first session of the 111th Congress, P.L. 111-8 contained language authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw or reissue (1) revisions to the ESA Section 7 consultation regulations promulgated by the Bush Administration and (2) a December 2008 special rule that outlined protections afforded polar bears. In addition, P.L. 111-11 included provisions (1) authorizing the implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement, providing for the reintroduction of Chinook salmon, and (2) amending P.L. 106-392 to extend the authorizations for the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basin endangered fish recovery programs through FY2023. P.L. 111-88 appropriated about $281 million for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species and related programs for FY2010.

This report discusses oversight issues and legislation introduced in the 111th Congress to address ESA implementation and management of endangered and threatened species.


Date of Report: June 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 29
Order Number: R40185
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Issues in the 111th Congress


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Harold F. Upton
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Fish and marine mammals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas; many federal laws and regulations guide their management as well as the management of their habitat.

Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. States generally have jurisdiction within 3 miles of the coast. Beyond state jurisdiction and out to 200 miles, the federal government manages fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) through eight regional fishery management councils. Beyond 200 miles, the United States participates in international agreements relating to specific areas or species. The 111th Congress may oversee implementation of the MSFCMA as well as address individual habitat and management concerns for U.S. commercial and sport fisheries to achieve a sustainable balance between resource use and protection. Current concerns include whether additional effort should be taken to eliminate overfishing, how fishery disaster assistance should be funded, and whether to more aggressively encourage fishing vessel capacity reduction and limited access privilege programs. The 111th Congress has enacted P.L. 111-5, including language to broaden the basis for determining import increases for trade adjustment assistance for fishing and aquaculture to include wild-caught fish and seafood in addition to farmraised fish and seafood. In addition, P.L. 111-11 authorized implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement providing for the reintroduction of Chinook salmon; extended the authorizations for the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basin endangered fish recovery programs through FY2023; directed the Secretary of Commerce to establish an ocean acidification program within NOAA, and to establish an interagency committee to develop an ocean acidification research and monitoring plan; and reauthorized (through FY2015) and amend the Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act of 2000.

Aquaculture—the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals and plants in a controlled environment—is expanding rapidly abroad, with more modest growth in the United States. In the United States, important species cultured include catfish, salmon, shellfish, and trout. The 111th Congress has enacted P.L. 111-5, including language (1) providing as much as $50 million in total assistance to aquaculture producers for losses associated with high feed input costs during the 2008 calendar year and (2) including National Fish Hatcheries as eligible for $165 million in resource management funding as well as $115 million in construction funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). With few exceptions, the MMPA prohibits harm or harassment ("take") of marine mammals, unless restrictive permits are obtained. It also addresses specific situations of concern, such as dolphin mortality, primarily associated with the eastern tropical Pacific tuna fishery. The 111th Congress may consider bills to reauthorize and amend the MMPA as well as measures to address specific marine mammal habitat and management concerns, such as how to deal with the effects of increasing noise in the ocean.


Date of Report: June 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 35
Order Number: R40172
Price: $29.95

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Issues in the 111th Congress


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Harold F. Upton
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Fish and marine mammals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas; many federal laws and regulations guide their management as well as the management of their habitat.

Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. States generally have jurisdiction within 3 miles of the coast. Beyond state jurisdiction and out to 200 miles, the federal government manages fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) through eight regional fishery management councils. Beyond 200 miles, the United States participates in international agreements relating to specific areas or species. The 111th Congress may oversee implementation of the MSFCMA as well as address individual habitat and management concerns for U.S. commercial and sport fisheries to achieve a sustainable balance between resource use and protection. Current concerns include whether additional effort should be taken to eliminate overfishing, how fishery disaster assistance should be funded, and whether to more aggressively encourage fishing vessel capacity reduction and limited access privilege programs. The 111th Congress has enacted P.L. 111-5, including language to broaden the basis for determining import increases for trade adjustment assistance for fishing and aquaculture to include wild-caught fish and seafood in addition to farmraised fish and seafood. In addition, P.L. 111-11 authorized implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement providing for the reintroduction of Chinook salmon; extended the authorizations for the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basin endangered fish recovery programs through FY2023; directed the Secretary of Commerce to establish an ocean acidification program within NOAA, and to establish an interagency committee to develop an ocean acidification research and monitoring plan; and reauthorized (through FY2015) and amend the Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act of 2000.

Aquaculture—the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals and plants in a controlled environment—is expanding rapidly abroad, with more modest growth in the United States. In the United States, important species cultured include catfish, salmon, shellfish, and trout. The 111th Congress has enacted P.L. 111-5, including language (1) providing as much as $50 million in total assistance to aquaculture producers for losses associated with high feed input costs during the 2008 calendar year and (2) including National Fish Hatcheries as eligible for $165 million in resource management funding as well as $115 million in construction funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). With few exceptions, the MMPA prohibits harm or harassment ("take") of marine mammals, unless restrictive permits are obtained. It also addresses specific situations of concern, such as dolphin mortality, primarily associated with the eastern tropical Pacific tuna fishery. The 111th Congress may consider bills to reauthorize and amend the MMPA as well as measures to address specific marine mammal habitat and management concerns, such as how to deal with the effects of increasing noise in the ocean. 
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Date of Report: June 18, 2010
Number of Pages: 35
Order Number: R40172
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund


Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

An Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, with two accounts—a Sport Fish Restoration Account and a Boat Safety Account—was created in 1984 and subsequently amended to support a variety of programs administered by three federal agencies, including wetlands management, recreational vessel docking and sewage disposal infrastructure, and aquatic resource education. In 2005, the Boat Safety Account was terminated and remaining programs were consolidated into a renamed Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. This report details sources of funding for this trust fund and summarizes the various programs and activities receiving funding.

The five sources of income to the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund are (1) the portion of federal fuel taxes attributable to motorboat fuel from the Highway Trust Fund; (2) annual tax receipts attributable to small engine fuel used for outdoor power equipment from the Highway Trust Fund; (3) annual receipts from a manufacturers' excise tax on sport fishing equipment; (4) annual receipts from import duties on fishing tackle and on yachts and pleasure craft; and (5) interest on funds invested prior to disbursal. Total FY2008 income from these five sources was approximately $708 million.

The eight efforts funded from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund are (1) three coastal wetlands conservation and restoration programs; (2) recreational boating safety; (3) construction of sewage pump-out and dump stations for recreational vessel sewage disposal; (4) construction of docking facilities for large transient recreational vessels; (5) national aquatic resource outreach and communications; (6) multi-state conservation grants; (7) interstate fishery commissions and the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council; and (8) state grants for sport fish restoration projects.

Some of the proposals under discussion by Congress for reauthorizing federal surface transportation programs—which had been required by the end of FY2009 but were extended several times for short terms, most recently by provisions in P.L. 111-147, which extended the authorizations through December 31, 2010—include an increase (possibly more than doubling) of the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal fuel tax to better fund highway infrastructure programs through the Highway Trust Fund. The 111th Congress may decide whether the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund receives substantial benefits (possibly exceeding an additional $350 million annually) if the federal fuel tax is increased. A corollary set of questions focuses on whether, and if so how, the various programs supported by the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund might be modified to expend increased receipts, should a federal fuel tax increase be enacted.


Date of Report: June 22, 2010
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS22060
Price: $29.95

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