CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1080 on Tuesday, September 22, 2009, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 1080 was introduced on February 13, 2009, by Del. Bordallo (D-GU) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark-up and reported the bill, as amended, by unanimous consent on June 10, 2009.
H.R. 1080 would increase current authority to combat illegal and unregulated fishing and would reauthorize $65 million over five years for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to fight illegal fishing.
Specifically, the bill applies the enforcement authority to a number of current fishing-related statutes, including the Pacific Salmon Treaty Act of 1985, the Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act, the Tuna Conventions Act of 1950, and the North Pacific Anadromous Stocks Act of 1992. H.R. 1080 would grant NOAA and the Coast Guard new authority to enforce fishing restrictions by boarding vessels, making arrests, detaining fish or other evidence for up to five days, searching and seizing vessels, accessing data related to fishing voyages, including inspection of voyage records, and executing warrants. Violations of fishing laws and restrictions would be punishable by $100,000 fines and/or up to six months imprisonment.
The bill would also create a new International Cooperation and Assistance Program, operated by the Secretary of Commerce, through the National Marine Fisheries Service. The program would provide funding and grants to international fishery management efforts. The bill would authorize $5 million annually to establish this new federal grant program for other nations.
According to House Report 111-228, more than seventy percent of the world's fishing stocks are over fished. There are currently a number of laws meant to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, but each has different enforcement provisions. H.R. 1080 would increase and broaden illegal fishing punishments across the board and allow NOAA and the Coast Guard increased authority when attempting to combat illegal fishing. Illegal fishing represents between 11 and 26 million tons of all fish harvested annually and costs between $10 billion and $23 billion annually, according to the Natural Resources Committee.
According to the Committee, a recent report released to Congress in January, 2009, showed that France, Italy, Libya, Panama, China, and Tunisia all had vessels engaged in illegal fishing. NOAA has opened up consultations with these nations in an attempt to stop the illegal fishing. As a part of the effort to stop international illegal fishing, the legislation would reauthorize funding for the NOAA and the Coast Guard enforcement work and create a new grant program to provide funding and technical expertise to other nations to help them address illegal fishing. Some Members, however, may find it objectionable to use U.S. tax dollars to fund programs for other nations to combat illegal fishing conducted by their citizens.
According to CBO, H.R. 1080 would cost approximately $55 million over the 2010-2014 period and would increase revenue by less than $500,000 annually from civil penalties.