Eugene H. Buck Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
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 112th 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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