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Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Legislation in the 107th Congress

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Fish and marine mammals are important resources in the open ocean and nearshore coastal areas. A diverse body of laws and regulations guides the management of these resources by a multitude of federal agencies.

Reauthorization of major legislation in this issue area — the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) — was on the agenda of the 107th Congress, since the authorization of appropriations for both laws expired at the end of FY1999. In the 107th Congress, reauthorization bills were introduced in the House — H.R. 2570 and H.R. 4749 on the MSFCMA, and H.R. 4781 on the MMPA, and oversight hearings were held in both Chambers. H.R. 4749 was reported to the House, while H.R. 4781 was marked up in Subcommittee.

Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. Beyond state jurisdiction and out to 200 miles, the federal government manages fisheries under the authority of the MSFCMA through the actions of eight regional fishery management councils. Beyond 200 miles, the United States participates in a multitude of international agreements relating to specific areas or species.

Legislation related to commercial and sport fisheries enacted by the 107th Congress provided funding for capacity reduction programs for New England fisheries; modified terms of the American Fisheries Act; extended state authority to manage West Coast Dungeness crab; required a report on efforts to expand the promotion, marketing, and purchasing of pouched and canned salmon harvested and processed in the United States; authorized a feasibility study of fish passage at Chiloquin Dam, OR; authorized the waiver of state fishing regulations at military facilities; extended the interstate compact relating to Atlantic salmon restoration for 20 years; extended Coast Guard fishing vessel safety programs; and extended priorities for National Sea Grant College Program competitive grant awards.

Aquaculture — the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals and plants in a controlled environment — is expanding rapidly, both in the United States and abroad. In the United States, important species cultured include catfish, salmon, crawfish, shellfish, and trout. Legislation related to aquaculture enacted by the 107th Congress extended authorization for aquaculture research facilities, reauthorized the National Aquaculture Act, defined what fish may be labeled and advertized as catfish, and required the labeling of both farm-raised and wild fish as to country of origin and to distinguish between wild and farm-raised fish.

Marine mammals are protected under the MMPA. This Act authorizes restricted use (“take”) of marine mammals and addresses specific situations of concern, such as dolphin mortality primarily associated with the eastern tropical Pacific tuna fishery.

Legislation enacted by the 107th Congress related to marine mammals required the National Park Service to prepared an environmental impact statement on vessel entries to Glacier Bay National Park to assess possible impacts on whale populations.