Summary: H.R.4404 — 103rd Congress (1993-1994)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.4404. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (05/12/1994)


Title I: Amendments to Magnuson Fishery Conservation

and Management Act

Title II: Amendments to the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act

Marine Fish Conservation Amendments of 1994 - Title I: Amendments to Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act - Amends the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act to declare that it is the policy of the Congress to: (1) assure that the national fishery conservation and management program encourages development of practical measures that reduce bycatch (the incidental catch, take, or harvest of certain fish, marine mammals, and other specified animals) to insignificant levels approaching zero; and (2) ensure that all State and Federal actions are consistent with the conservation and management of fisheries under such Act.

(Sec. 105) Revises national standards for fishery conservation and management to require conservation and management measures to: (1) provide an adequate margin of safety to act as a buffer against overfishing; and (2) reduce bycatch to the lowest level practicable and avoid unnecessary waste of fish.

(Sec. 106) Revises requirements for Regional Fishery Management Councils to direct the Secretary of Commerce to ensure that at least 25 percent of the appointed members of each Council are persons selected for their fisheries expertise, as demonstrated by university, environmental organization, or other non-user group affiliation and by past actions and accomplishments.

Provides for removal of a Council member for cause upon the Secretary's determination of a conflict of interest. Requires that each Council decision be recorded by roll call vote registered and forwarded to the Secretary for review.

Authorizes each Council to request the Secretary to initiate consultation with a Federal agency about certain agency activity which may affect the essential fishery habitat of a fishery under its jurisdiction designated in a fishery management plan. Revises financial disclosure requirements for Council members to include financial interests held by children, grandchildren, parents, or siblings. Requires any Council member holding a financial interest requiring disclosure to recuse him or herself from voting on or participating in all Council actions that would affect such interest. Authorizes Council members and the public to challenge, in writing to the Secretary, any vote of a Council member alleged to have been made in violation of such recusal requirement.

(Sec. 107) Requires any fishery management plan to: (1) specify an objective definition of overfishing for each fish species or population involved in the fishery; (2) contain a recovery plan for any overfished fishery; (3) specify allowable gear types for the fishery, requiring the use of types which minimize bycatch and associated mortality; (4) provide for the stationing on U.S. fishing vessels of observers to gather reliable data; (5) establish a system of fees to pay for plan implementation; (6) assess the bycatch of all gear types used in the fishery; and (7) contain conservation and management measures to minimize or eliminate the adverse impacts of fishing gear and practices on habitat for fish. Requires the Secretary to review each existing fishery management plan for compliance with the definition of overfishing in this Act.

(Sec. 108) Specifies plan review, plan preparation, and overfishing determination duties of the Secretary.

Mandates the contents of regulations establishing a system to collect fees to pay for fishing vessel observers. Establishes a National Fishery Observer Fund.

Directs the Secretary to publish in the Federal Register a list of fish species, populations, and population complexes that are overfished and the objective definition of overfishing used to make that determination. Requires the Secretary to develop a research plan to identify and gather needed data on fish species, populations, and population complexes for which information is insufficient.

Revises the approval voting requirements for a management plan for any fishery under the authority of more than one Council. Declares that any Secretary-prepared fishery management plan or amendment addressing a highly migratory species fishery, which was in effect on July 1, 1993, shall remain in effect until superseded by a plan or amendment prepared by the appropriate Councils and approved by the Secretary. Sets forth procedures for adoption of a recovery plan addressing overfishing with respect to fish species, populations, or population complexes subject to a fishery management plan.

Directs the Secretary to provide for the elimination of bycatch through fees and incentive programs, including cooperative efforts with the Federal Government on research and development of selective fishing gear and other technological devices for the reduction of bycatch. Directs the Secretary to publish in the Federal Register and submit to the Congress a report on the cumulative impacts on fishery habitats of the actions authorized, funded, or carried out by Federal agencies, including an assessment of how fishery habitats identified in approved fishery management plans are affected. Directs the Secretary to review: (1) the feasibility of establishing a risk sharing pool through a reasonable fee to provide coverage for vessels and vessel owners against liability from civil suits by observers; and (2) the availability of comprehensive commercial insurance for vessel and owner liability against such suits. Requires the Secretary to establish such a pool unless such insurance is available to all fishing vessels and U.S fish processors required to have observers, and it will provide a greater measure of coverage at a lower cost.

Requires the Secretary to establish an alternative observation program for vessels on which facilities for quartering of an observer, or for carrying out observer functions, are inadequate to ensure the health or safety of the observer or the safe operation of the vessel.

(Sec. 109) Authorizes the Secretary or the appropriate Council (subject to the Secretary's approval) to adopt regulations as an interim measure in the absence of a fishery management plan. Prescribes general requirements for such regulations. Requires the Secretary to comment on and make recommendations concerning any actual or proposed action authorized, funded, or carried out by a State or Federal agency that may result in the destruction or adverse modification of the essential habitat designated in a fishery management plan. Prescribes guidelines for Federal agency response to such comments or recommendations. Authorizes the Secretary to prohibit any such Federal agency actions.

Provides for: (1) citizen suits to enforce such Act; and (2) citizen petitions to compel the Secretary to make a finding or determination or take any other action authorized by such Act.

Title II: Amendments to the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act - Amends the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act of 1975 to require the Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service (or his or her designee) to be one of the three U.S. Commissioners on the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

(Sec. 201) Prohibits any U.S. Commissioner from having a financial interest or from serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee with an organization with a financial interest in any catching, harvesting, processing, or marketing activity undertaken within any fishery over which the Commission has jurisdiction.

Repeals certain knowledge and experience requirements, with respect to commercial and recreational fishing, for non-governmental Commissioners. Allows regulations to carry out Commission recommendations which may have the effect of decreasing any allocation or quota of fish to the United States.