H.R. 3070, EEZ Transit Zone Clarification and Access Act, as amended

H.R. 3070

EEZ Transit Zone Clarification and Access Act, as amended

Sponsor
Rep. Lee Zeldin

Date
June 7, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Molly Newell

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 3070, the EEZ Transit Zone Clarification and Access Act, as amended, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on July 15, 2015, by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources which ordered the bill reported in the Nature of a Substitute by Unanimous Consent on March 16, 2016.

 

Bill Summary

H.R. 3070 would authorize the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), to permit striped bass fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone transit zone between Montauk, New York, and Point Judith, Rhode Island.

 

Background

The Atlantic striped bass is a migratory species that poses management challenges as it routinely crosses state boundaries and swims up rivers to spawn in the spring. The current management of the Atlantic striped bass fishery in state and federal waters is unique. Each state in the Atlantic region manages its own fisheries in state waters or, in some cases, collectively through the ASMFC.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manages fisheries in federal waters through the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. However, commercial and recreational harvest of the species in federal waters is prohibited, in part, under Executive Order 13449. While the stock has rebounded from the 1980s—from 5 million in 1982 to 56 million in 2007, according to the federal government—NOAA has not used its discretion under the Executive Order to lift this moratorium despite a 2003 ASMFC recommendation to do so.

There has been some regulatory confusion around Block Island Sound, a strip of federal water between Montauk, New York, and Block Island, Rhode Island. This small strip of federal water, which is immediately adjacent to state waters, is a transit zone for fishermen who possess Atlantic striped bass in federal waters but caught such fish in neighboring state waters. Due to the lack of line demarcation, there is a risk of anglers receiving fines for inadvertently fishing in federal waters.[1]

According to the sponsor, “One of the most pressing issues faced by Long Island fishermen is the urgent need to clarify the federal regulations regarding striped bass fishing in the small area of federally controlled waters between Montauk Point and Block Island…Long Island striped bass fishermen have lost 60% of their traditional fishing grounds due to federal restrictions that this bill intends to reform. Fishermen should be able to legally fish for striped bass in this limited area, which they currently can in adjacent state waters. The EEZ Transit Zone Clarification Act will provide regulatory relief and more certainty to our region’s fishermen, while restoring local control to a critical fishery that must be properly managed and preserved for future generations.”[2]

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[1] See H. Rept. 114-517
[2] See Press Release, “Rep. Zeldin’s Bill for Long Island Fishermen Passes House Natural Resources Committee,” March 17, 2016.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that there are no other budgetary consequences of maintaining or lifting this fishing ban in federal waters. Enacting H.R. 3070 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO estimates that enacting the bill would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

Additional Information

For questions about amendments or further information on the bill, contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.