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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Saltonstall-Kennedy Act: A Summary of the Law and Its Implementation

Eugene H. Buck
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

The Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Act of 1954 was created to provide consistent funding for commercial fisheries research and development. Funds are derived through the permanent appropriation of a portion of fishery import duties. Since its creation in 1954, authorizing language for how these funds might be used has been broadened to encompass objectives in addition to research and development, including a competitive grants program for the commercial fishing industry. In addition, the manner of allocating S-K funds through the annual federal appropriations process among various programs and uses has evolved. Congress has opted to use the annual appropriations processes in a flexible manner to address what are seen as the changing needs of the commercial fishing industry as well as those of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the federal agency that manages this industry and the marine resources on which it depends.

In 1976, Congress enacted the Fishery Conservation and Management Act (FCMA) to extend U.S. jurisdiction over fisheries to 200 miles from the U.S. coast so as to displace foreign fishermen who had been harvesting seafood from waters off the U.S. coast. In the late 1970s, NMFS initiated an annual competitive grant program using S-K funds, whereby projects by or cooperative agreements with the commercial fishing industry were selected to assist NMFS in addressing concerns related to fisheries research and development. Congress passed authorizing language for the competitive grants program in 1980 as part of the American Fisheries Promotion Act. In FY1979 appropriations, in part to deal with the added responsibilities under the FCMA, NMFS began receiving S-K funds as annual budgetary transfers to NOAA’s Operations, Research, and Facilities (OR&F) account. This allocation of S-K funds to internal NMFS programs, often at the expense of the competitive industry grants program, has been a recurrent issue of controversy and concern for some in the commercial fishing industry. To complicate the issue, congressional earmarks in the period between 2003 and 2006 effectively eliminated funding for the competitive grants program.

S-K programs are funded through a permanent appropriation and no periodic reauthorization is required. In addition, no recent congressional oversight hearings have been held to review the activities conducted under S-K authority or how S-K funds are allocated.

Questions arose in the 112
th Congress as to whether the U.S. commercial fishing industry might benefit from further expansion of the activities that S-K funding could support. Some of the attention to S-K funds in the 112th Congress stemmed from renewed interest in seafood marketing, particularly related to how a national program to promote seafood might be funded, including whether S-K funds might play a role in funding such an effort.

Date of Report: December 5, 2012
Number of Pages: 10
Order Number: RS21799
Price: $29.95

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