(House of Representatives - February 05, 2018)

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[Pages H753-H755]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         LICENSING REQUIREMENTS

  Mr. GOSAR. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 2504) to ensure fair treatment in licensing requirements for the 
export of certain echinoderms.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 2504

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       (a) Exemption.--Not later than 30 days after the date of 
     the enactment of this Act, the Director of the United States 
     Fish and Wildlife Service shall amend section 14.92 of title 
     50, Code of Federal Regulations, to clarify that--
       (1) fish or wildlife described in subsection (b) are 
     fishery products exempt from the export permission 
     requirements of section 9(d)(1) of the Endangered Species Act 
     of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1538(d)(1)); and
       (2) any person may engage in business as an exporter of 
     such fish or wildlife without procuring permission under such 
     section of that Act or an export license under subpart I of 
     part 14 of such title.
       (b) Covered Fish or Wildlife.--The fish or wildlife 
     referred to in subsection (a) are members of the phylum 
     Echinodermata that are commonly known as sea urchins and sea 
     cucumbers, including products thereof, that--
       (1) do not require a permit under part 16, 17, or 23 of 
     title 50, Code of Federal Regulations;
       (2) are harvested in waters under the jurisdiction of the 
     United States or are processed in the United States; and
       (3) are--
       (A) exported for purposes of human or animal consumption; 
       (B) taken in waters under the jurisdiction of the United 
     States or on the high seas for recreational purposes.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Arizona (Mr. Gosar) and the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Ms. Hanabusa) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona.

                             General Leave

  Mr. GOSAR. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to 
include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Arizona?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. GOSAR. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 2504, introduced by my Maine colleagues, Chellie 
Pingree and Bruce Poliquin, is a bipartisan effort to right a 
bipartisan wrong. In regulations created by an outgoing George W. Bush 
administration and carried on by administrations since, the U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service has imposed unnecessary fees and duplicative and 
costly inspection requirements on what was once a growing industry that 
aims to export niche seafood to overseas markets.
  Even the National Marine Fisheries Service, a bastion of Federal 
regulatory growth, disagrees with its sister agency on this matter. The 
stories of spoiled food shipments, loss of jobs, and bureaucratic 
indifference embody the arrogance of an agency gone wild. This bill 
preserves and promotes jobs as a counter.
  I will include in the Record an exchange of letters with Chairman 
Royce of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who also received a referral of 
this bill. I thank him for his cooperation in allowing this bill to go 
forward today.
  Again, I commend our two Maine colleagues for working on a bipartisan 
basis to address this matter. I urge adoption of this commonsense 
measure, and I reserve the balance of my time.

                                    U.S. House of Representatives,

                               Committee on Natural Resources,

                                  Washington, DC, January 8, 2018.
     Hon. Edward R. Royce,
     Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman: H.R. 2504, To ensure fair treatment in 
     licensing requirements for the export of certain echinoderms, 
     was introduced on May 17, 2017. The bill was referred 
     primarily to the Committee on Natural Resources, with an 
     additional referral to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
       I thank you for allowing the Committee on Foreign Affairs 
     to be discharged from further consideration of the bill so 
     that it may be scheduled by the Majority Leader. This 
     discharge in no way affects your jurisdiction over the 
     subject matter of the bill, and it will not serve as 
     precedent for future referrals. In addition, should a 
     conference on the bill be necessary, I would support having 
     the Committee on Foreign Affairs represented on the 
     conference committee. Finally, to memorialize our 
     understanding, I would be pleased to include your letter and 
     this response in the Congressional Record when the bill is 
     considered by the House.
       Thank you for your response and cooperation. I look forward 
     to further opportunities to work with you this Congress.
                                                       Rob Bishop,
     Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources.

                                    U.S. House of Representatives,

                                 Committee on Foreign Affairs,

                                  Washington, DC, January 3, 2018.
     Hon. Rob Bishop,
     Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources, Washington, 
       Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for consulting with the 
     Committee on Foreign Affairs on H.R. 2504, a bill to ensure 
     fair treatment in licensing requirements for the export of 
     certain echinoderms.
       I agree that the Foreign Affairs Committee may be 
     discharged from further action on this bill, subject to the 
     understanding that this waiver does not in any way diminish 
     or alter the jurisdiction of the Foreign Affairs Committee, 
     or prejudice its jurisdictional prerogatives on this bill or 
     similar legislation in the future. The Committee also 
     reserves the right to seek an appropriate number of conferees 
     to any House-Senate conference involving this bill, and would 
     appreciate your support for any such request.
       I ask that you place our exchange of letters into the 
     Congressional Record during floor consideration of the bill. 
     I appreciate your cooperation regarding this legislation and 
     look forward to continuing to work with you as this measure 
     moves through the legislative process.
                                                  Edward R. Royce,

  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as she may consume to 
the gentlewoman from Maine (Ms. Pingree), the sponsor of this bill.

[[Page H754]]


  Ms. PINGREE. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Hawaii for the 
  I rise today as well in support of H.R. 2504, a bill that will end 
the practice of duplicative export inspections for sea urchin and sea 
cucumbers that are being shipped overseas.
  This is the second time that the House has considered this 
legislation in recent years. I want to thank Chairman Bishop; 
Subcommittee Chairman Lamborn; Ranking Member Grijalva; and my good 
friend from California, Ranking Member Huffman, for their support in 
bringing this bill again to the floor today.
  I also want to thank my colleague from Arizona (Mr. Gosar) for being 
here to speak in favor of this bill today.
  Also, in the bipartisan effort that we are making here today, I want 
to recognize and thank my colleague from Maine (Mr. Poliquin), who well 
knows the importance of this issue and who has been an original 
cosponsor of this bill, both in this Congress and the last.
  I think it is important to explain to the Members who are here today 
a little bit about why this bill is important and especially critical 
to our Nation's sea urchin industry.
  As a few Members may know, but most probably don't, the sea urchin 
industry in Maine brings in over $5.4 million to our State every year. 
It supports 600 jobs, which includes harvesters of the species. Also, 
we have businesses in Maine which process the urchins harvested here, 
as well as those imported from Canada and Chile, before being exported 
  The need for this bill revolves around ending a duplicative 
inspection of exported product that is unnecessary and costly. Urchins 
imported to Maine from other countries to be processed are inspected by 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when they get to the United States. 
This scrutiny is necessary to ensure the integrity of the imported 
  However, in recent years, the Fish and Wildlife Service has inspected 
products once again before leaving the country, usually in New York or 
New Jersey. This occurs before they are shipped to Asia and Japan, in 
particular, where they are considered a delicacy.
  I have spent the past few years working with my colleagues in the 
Maine delegation to better understand the impact of this policy on 
small businesses in our State and others where the urchins are 
harvested. I believe these extra inspections are unnecessary. There is 
really no reason why sea urchins should be treated differently than 
shellfish, which have been exempted from these export inspections for 
  This process often leads to costly delays and lost product, as 
urchins may end up sitting in hot warehouses waiting for days. At 
times, the Fish and Wildlife office closes right when a shipment 
arrives for inspection. The highly perishable product must then sit 
there because of bad timing.
  The Fish and Wildlife Service has worked with my office to try to 
find solutions, and I know they have tried to work with us on 
particular problems and trouble spots. But the continual delays, 
despite their best efforts and that of harvesters, means that the only 
real solution is to get rid of this duplicative inspection. Again, that 
is what this bill will do.
  This bill is a commonsense solution that will take away an 
unnecessary inspection, while ensuring that the Fish and Wildlife 
Service can continue to do their work and their jobs on other important 
issues affecting our coast and coastal communities.
  It will put our sea urchin and sea cucumber businesses on equal 
footing with their partners in the shellfish industry who do not have 
this extra scrutiny. It will help the hardworking men and women who 
harvest and process in this fishery to dedicate their time and efforts 
to that fishery, not to the bureaucracy.
  I urge all of my colleagues to support this bill, as we did in the 
past Congress.
  Mr. GOSAR. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Maine 
(Mr. Poliquin).
  Mr. POLIQUIN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to salute Chellie Pingree, my 
cosponsor on this bill, H.R. 2504, for the great work that she has done 
and that we have done together.
  Mr. Speaker, I will tell you that the job of government is to help 
our families, to help our small businesses, such that the kids and the 
young adults in Maine can stay in our State, such that they can raise 
their families and have a wonderful life.
  The best part of the world is in the State of Maine. Now, Ms. Pingree 
represents the southern part of our coast, Mr. Speaker, the southern 
half, from Camden down to Kittery. I represent the downeast part of our 
coast, from Lincolnville up to Eastport.
  Now, in the downeast part of our coast, mostly we are the folks that 
dive for the sea urchins and cucumbers. These are little critters that 
are delicacies in the Far East. We might not eat them here in 
Washington, but they are delicacies in the Far East. And in Chellie's 
district, the southern part of the coast, they process these critters.
  Mr. Speaker, this is very dangerous work. The folks that harvest 
these sea urchins and cucumbers strap on tanks and go into deep, dark, 
cold waters off the coast of Maine, and they are doing a great job 
getting this product to market.
  This product is incredibly perishable, so it is very important to get 
them from the bottom of the sea floor in coastal Maine onto their 
boats, down to Portland where they are processed in Ms. Pingree's 
district, and then onto a truck, down to JFK, get them on a plane, and 
get them to the Far East and sell as many of these critters as is 
humanly possible.
  This is where the problem comes in. As Ms. Pingree said, we already 
inspect this perishable delicacy in Maine. We do not need, Mr. Speaker, 
a second set of regulations that inspect them down in New York.
  And God forbid that it is on a holiday and folks don't show up to 
inspect them.

  What happens to this very perishable product?
  It sits in a warehouse on a tarmac where it is exposed to things that 
would cause them to go bad.
  So we need to do commonsense Maine stuff here, which is to eliminate 
overregulation. We already inspect this product in Maine. We don't need 
to do it again down on a tarmac in New York.
  Mr. Speaker, I encourage everybody, Republicans and Democrats, to 
work the way Chellie and I have on this, in a bipartisan manner, to 
make sure our families in Maine have an opportunity to dive for sea 
cucumbers and sea urchins and get them to market as quickly as 
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for giving me the time to speak on 
this; I thank Ms. Pingree for the same. I really appreciate leadership 
moving this through the floor here. I hope we have a very big, 
bipartisan, unanimous vote on this, because it is commonsense Maine. It 
is the right thing to do.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank Ms. Pingree. I appreciate her work on this. 
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I can make this even more real for people. Hawaii, as 
you know, my home State, is very close to Asia. We have many of the 
cuisines of Asia, and I can tell you that these are delicacies. Sea 
urchins are also called uni, for those who frequent sushi bars, and sea 
cucumbers are called namako. I grew up eating both, and they are very 
critical and a major part of what we consume, especially, not only in 
the sushi bars, but during festive holidays in Hawaii. So you can 
imagine what it means in terms of an export industry for Maine, not 
only to my home State, but also to the Asian market.
  For that reason, Mr. Speaker, I join the introducers of this bill, 
the sponsors, and I ask that my colleagues support this.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GOSAR. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I, too, want to compliment the two Representatives from Maine. They 
gave us a hands-on and a palate-trying type of opportunity in our 
hearing. It doesn't get better than that, and I want to compliment them 
for both.
  I ask all of my colleagues to vote for the underlying bill, and I 
yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Gosar) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 2504.

[[Page H755]]

  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.