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Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Legislation in the 110th Congress

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Publication Date: July 2007

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL33813

Topic: Agriculture, forestry and fishing (Fish industry)


Fish and marine mammals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas; many federal laws and regulations guide their management. Bills to reauthorize and amend major legislation -- the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) -- were acted upon by the 109th Congress; the authorization of appropriations for both laws had expired at the end of FY1999. P.L. 109-479 reauthorized and extensively amended the MSFCMA; a bill proposing to reauthorize and amend the MMPA (H.R. 4075) passed the House, but received no further action.

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 MSFCMA through eight regional fishery management councils. Beyond 200 miles, the United States participates in international agreements relating to specific areas or species. The 110th 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.

Aquaculture -- the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals and plants in a controlled environment -- is expanding rapidly abroad, with more modest advances in the United States. In the United States, important species cultured include catfish, salmon, shellfish, and trout. The Administration has stated that it plans to offer new draft legislation to promote the development of aquaculture in offshore federal waters. In addition, the 110th Congress may consider other measures to guide federal activities related to aquaculture.

Marine mammals are protected under the MMPA. With few exemptions, the MMPA prohibits harm or harassment ("take") of marine mammals, unless restrictive permits are obtained. It addresses specific situations of concern, such as dolphin mortality, primarily associated with the eastern tropical Pacific tuna fishery. The 110th Congress may consider bills to reauthorize and amend the MMPA as well as measures to address specific habitat and management concerns.


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