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Monday, January 24, 2011

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 111
th Congress enacted numerous measures, including P.L. 111-5, broadening the basis for determining import increases relating to trade adjustment assistance for fishing to include wild-caught fish and seafood in addition to farm-raised fish and seafood; P.L. 111-11 authorizing implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement providing for the reintroduction of Chinook salmon; P.L. 111-215, extending the date on which the Environmental Protection Agency and applicable states might require permits for discharges from fishing vessels to December 18, 2013; P.L. 111-281, amending the American Fisheries Act to modify provisions for vessel rebuilding and replacement as well as vessel and fishery cooperative exemptions; P.L. 111-348, allowing a bilateral United States-Canada Understanding to be considered an international agreement to allow federal fisheries managers to extend stock rebuilding deadlines for certain New England fisheries; and P.L. 111-353, directing the Food and Drug Administration to update the Fish and Fisheries Products Hazards and Control Guidance to take into account advances in technology.

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 111
th Congress enacted several measures, including P.L. 111-5, 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; P.L. 111-240, amending the Small Business Act to authorize certain disaster assistance to aquaculture enterprises that are small businesses; P.L. 111-307, amending the Lacey Act to add bighead carp to the list of injurious species that are prohibited from being imported or shipped interstate; and P.L. 111-353, requiring a report by the Food and Drug Administration on the post-harvest processing of raw oysters.

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. Other than annual appropriations, the 111
th Congress did not enact any legislation related to marine mammals.

Date of Report: January 13, 2011
Number of Pages: 40
Order Number: R40172
Price: $29.95

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