H.R. 4576, Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act, as amended

H.R. 4576

Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act, as amended

Date
September 12, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, September 12, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4576, the Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act, as amended, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on February 12, 2016, by Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, on July 13, 2016 by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4576 implements U.S. participation in three international fishery management agreements the United States helped negotiate: the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean; the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean; and the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries. Major provisions include:

Title I

Sec. 102 defines the process to which the U.S. will be represented in the North Pacific Fisheries Commission. Under this section, the U.S. will be represented by 5 commissioners, two of which shall be appointed by the President. The three remaining positions shall be filled by the chairmen, or their designees, from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council. Commissioners will not receive compensation but will have allowable expenses covered.  Section 102 also establishes and Advisory Committee to provide comment and analysis of any programs, investigations, reports, or recommendations proposed by the Commission.

Sec. 103 specifies the Secretary of State’s authority and responsibility under the North Pacific Fishery Convention. The Secretary shall transmit all reports, requests, proposals, and decisions of the Commission, and may also approve or object to any laws, rules, or amendments adopted by the Commission.

Sec. 104 specifies the Secretary of Commerce’s authority and responsibility under the North Pacific Fishery Convention. The Secretary shall promulgate fishery regulations as necessary to meet U.S. obligations under the Convention. Any regulation that governs a fish stock that migrates between the Convention Area and the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone would have to be approved by the Fishery Management Council prior to taking effect.  In addition Section 104 established safeguards to help ensure U.S. fisherman are not adversely affected by regulations set forth by the Commission. The Secretary must remain consistent with established fishery laws and set up a formal judicial review process for any action taken in relation to the Commission.

Sec. 105 creates a partnership between the Department of Commerce and the Coast Guard to enforce and regulations.

Sec. 106 sets forth a list of prohibited acts under Title I of the bill, including those defined to prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing efforts.

Sec. 107 established agreements with federal and state agencies as well as private organizations to carry out U.S. obligations under the Convention.

Sec. 108 ensures territorial participation in the Commission by American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Sec. 109 requires that captains of any fishing vessel from a country participating in the Convention to notify the Coast Guard if the fishing vessel enters the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone for any reason.

Title II

Sec. 202 defines the process to which the U.S. will be represented in the South Pacific Fisheries Commission. Under this section, the U.S. will be represented by 3 commissioners, two of which shall be appointed by the President. The remaining position shall be filled by the chairmen, or their designees, from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council. Commissioners will not receive compensation but will have allowable expenses covered.  Section 202 also establishes and Advisory Committee to provide comment and analysis of any programs, investigations, reports, or recommendations proposed by the Commission.

Sec. 203 specifies the Secretary of State’s authority and responsibility under the North Pacific Fishery Convention. The Secretary shall transmit all reports, requests, proposals, and decisions of the Commission, and may also approve or object to any laws, rules, or amendments adopted by the Commission.

Sec. 204 specifies the Secretary of Commerce’s authority and responsibility under the South Pacific Fishery Convention. The Secretary shall promulgate fishery regulations as necessary to meet U.S. obligations under the Convention. Any regulation that governs a fish stock that migrates between the Convention Area and the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone would have to be approved by the Fishery Management Council prior to taking effect.  In addition Section 204 established safeguards to help ensure U.S. fisherman are not adversely affected by regulations set forth by the Commission. The Secretary must remain consistent with established fishery laws and set up a formal judicial review process for any action taken in relation to the Commission.

Sec. 205 creates a partnership between the Department of Commerce and the Coast Guard to enforce and regulations.

Sec. 206 sets forth a list of prohibited acts under Title I of the bill, including those defined to prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing efforts.

Sec. 207 established agreements with federal and state agencies as well as private organizations to carry out U.S. obligations under the Convention.

Sec. 208 ensures territorial participation in the Commission by American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Sec. 209 requires that captains of any fishing vessel from a country participating in the Convention to notify the Coast Guard if the fishing vessel enters the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone for any reason.

Title III

Sec 301 amends the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act to require that in negotiations, the Secretaries of Commerce and State advocate for U.S. positions that minimize disadvantages to U.S. fishermen. Section 301 also requires that the advisory committee provide formal comments to the U.S. Commissioners 15 days in advance of a scheduled meeting. Currently, the advisory committee meets annually but is not required to provide any formal comment or advice.

Title IV

Sec 401 adds the North and South Pacific Fishery Conventions to Public Law 114-81, the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act.

Title V

Adds the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Convention to the legislation.

Background

The coordinated management of shared fishery stocks in international waters (201 or more miles from the shore of the U.S.) is accomplished by nations participating in Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO). These international commissioners guide and coordinate the fisheries management activities of multiple nations in a specific region.[1] The U.S. is party to five major RFMO’s including: the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, the Indiana Ocean Tuna Commission, and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

H.R 4576 implements U.S. participation in two additional international fisheries treaties: the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean, and the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean. While the U.S. agreed to both the North and South Pacific Conventions, implementing legislation is needed to authorize the authority of the U.S. to participate and enforce regulations set forth by the RMFO’s.[2]

In 2006, delegations from the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Russia met to begin negotiations on an agreement to address deep sea fishing practices occurring outside areas of national jurisdiction in the North Pacific. That same year, delegations from Australia, Chile, and New Zealand began negotiations on an agreement to address deep sea fishing practices in the South Pacific.  The U.S, Belize, China, Denmark, Ecuador, the European Union, Korea, Russia, Peru, several Pacific Island states, and Taiwan soon joined the negotiations.[3]

On April 22, 2013, the Administration transmitted both the North and South Pacific Conventions to the U.S. Senate for ratification. Following the Senate’s ratification on April 3, 2014, the Administration determine that both agreements were not self-executing and that legislation was necessary to implement both conventions.[4]

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[1][1] See http://www.state.gov/e/oes/ocns/fish/regionalorganizations/
[2] See Committee on Natural Resources Background Memo, July 12-13, 2016, at 2.
[3] Id.
[4] Id. at 3.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates implementing H.R. 4576 would cost $2.5 million over the 2017-2021 period for annual dues, staff time, travel, and programmatic activities, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting this legislation could increase revenues and associated direct spending, therefore pay-as-you-go procedures apply. CBO further estimates that enacting the legislation 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 or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.