Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

115th Congress   }                                      {   Rept. 115-506
                         HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session      }                                      {        Part 1


                          CERTAIN ECHINODERMS


January 10, 2018.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed


Mr. Bishop of Utah, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted 
                             the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2504]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 2504) to ensure fair treatment in licensing 
requirements for the export of certain echinoderms, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 2504 is to ensure fair treatment in 
licensing requirements for the export of certain echinoderms.


    In Maine, green sea urchins inhabit the shallow waters off 
the Atlantic coast. Sea urchins are generally harvested for 
their roe, more commonly known as ``uni,'' which is a delicacy 
food item in Japan, Europe, and more recently in the U.S. Maine 
sea urchin landings in 2014 were almost 2 million pounds valued 
at $5.4 million.\1\ Sea urchins are typically harvested by hand 
by divers but can also be harvested by fishing vessels 
outfitted with dragging nets. In Maine, diving is the primary 
technique used to harvest the species, with roughly 115 divers 
harvesting 60 percent of the State's landings. While targeting 
different types of sea urchins, harvesting is also a 
significant fishery off parts of California's coast. This 
fishery, with just over 200 active divers, harvested almost 13 
million pounds of urchins in 2013 valued at $9.8 million.\2\
    \1\Maine Department of Marine Resources: 2010-2014 Commercial Maine 
Landings, February 25, 2015.
    \2\California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 2013 California Sea 
Urchin Catch by Diver and Region.
    The sea cucumber industry in Maine is much smaller than the 
sea urchin industry, mostly due to a new foreign market that 
developed in 1994. According to Maine Department of Marine 
Resources (DMR), the sea cucumber fishery is a closed access 
fishery, with only ten active licenses in 2012.\3\ While this 
is a relatively small fishery in Maine, valued at just over 
$700,000 in 2008, the species belongs to the same group as sea 
    Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 
(ESA, Public Law 93-205), the United States Fish and Wildlife 
Service (USFWS) has the authority to inspect and regulate fish 
and fishery products that are to be imported or exported. This 
authority, however, is not limited to ESA-listed species or 
species listed under the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species (CITES). According to USFWS, this broad 
authority allows the agency to regulate and inspect many 
``wildlife species used for food'' that are not protected under 
either ESA or CITES, and allows it to charge licensing and 
inspection fees to importers and exporters of all fish, fish 
products, and wildlife.
    In an effort to help preserve domestic and international 
trade of U.S. seafood and seafood products, USFWS established 
criteria to exempt shellfish and other non-living fishery 
products if used for consumption from these regulations. To 
qualify for this exemption, the species must not be listed as 
injurious under the Lacey Act and not listed under the ESA or 
CITES.\5\ This exemption is essential to the trade of shellfish 
as many species, such as oysters, clams, lobster and others are 
often traded live and/or have a very short timeframe for safe 
consumption. USFWS has a current exemption list that includes 
many of these species.
    \5\50 CFR 14
    Until 2008, other key species, such as sea urchins and sea 
cucumbers were also exempt from the import and export licensing 
and requirements. On December 8, 2008, USFWS published a final 
rule revising its authority to regulate the import and export 
of certain species to clarify requirements and update license 
and inspection exemptions.\6\ USFWS received multiple comments 
on this proposed change to the exemption requirements from 
members of the fishing industry and the National Marine 
Fisheries Service (NMFS), which is a partnering agency with 
USFWS for oversight of these species. NMFS specifically 
commented on the proposed changes and how USFWS' definition of 
``shellfish'' for the sake of inspections and exemptions was 
not consistent with NMFS' or that of the United Nations Food 
and Agriculture Organization. NMFS requested that USFWS revise 
its definition to be consistent with NMFS'. Industry comments 
echoed those of NMFS, stating that the revisions ``would create 
a financial burden'' on the industry, including importers and 
exporters down to divers. H.R. 2504 corrects this inconsistent 
view between the two agencies by exempting sea urchins and sea 
cucumbers from USFWS inspection requirements.
    \6\73 FR 74615, December 9, 2008
    During a February 2, 2016 Water, Power and Oceans 
Subcommittee hearing on H.R. 4245, there was bipartisan concern 
over the USFWS' policy on domestically harvested exports.\7\ 
Further, according to USFWS, the seafood traceability rule 
released in 2016 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration may eliminate the need for USFWS to continue to 
conduct such inspections on imported seafood.\8\
    \7\Exchange between Congressman Jared Huffman and Mr. William 
Woody, Assistant Director of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, during the House Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee 
hearing on H.R. 3070 and H.R. 4245, 114th Cong., February 2, 2016.
    \8\Submitted testimony of Mr. William Woody, Assistant Director of 
Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to the House 
Committee on Natural Resources, 114th Cong., February 2, 2016.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 2504 was introduced on May 17, 2017, by Congresswoman 
Chellie Pingree (D-ME). The bill was referred to the Committee 
on Natural Resources and additionally referred to the Committee 
on Foreign Affairs. Within the Committee on Natural Resources, 
the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Water, Power and 
Oceans. On November 7, 2017, the Natural Resources Committee 
met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee was discharged by 
unanimous consent. No amendments were offered, and the bill was 
ordered favorably reported to the House of Representatives by 
unanimous consent on November 8, 2017.


    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.


    1. Cost of Legislation and the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974. With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) and 
(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives 
and sections 308(a) and 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974, the Committee has received the enclosed cost estimate for 
the bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, December 1, 2017.
Hon. Rob Bishop,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2504, a bill to 
ensure fair treatment in licensing requirements for the export 
of certain echinoderms.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Jeff LaFave.
                                             Mark P. Hadley
                                        (For Keith Hall, Director).

H.R. 2504--A bill to ensure fair treatment in licensing requirements 
        for the export of certain echinoderms

    H.R. 2504 would exempt exporters of certain species of sea 
creatures from having to obtain export licenses from the United 
States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Under H.R. 2504, an 
export license would not be required to ship sea cucumbers and 
sea urchins to foreign markets.
    Enacting the bill would reduce offsetting receipts (which 
are treated as reductions in direct spending) from fees that 
the USFWS charges for export licenses. H.R. 2504 also could 
reduce receipts from inspection fees because exporters of the 
affected products would no longer be required to clear 
shipments directly with the USFWS. CBO estimates that enacting 
the bill would reduce such fees by less than $500,000 a year. 
Because the USFWS is authorized to retain and spend proceeds 
from those activities, any reduction in fee collections would 
be offset by a similar reduction in direct spending.
    Because enacting the bill would affect direct spending pay-
as-you-go procedures apply. However, the net effect on direct 
spending would be negligible. Enacting the bill would not 
affect revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2504 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 2504 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The 
estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to ensure fair treatment in licensing 
requirements for the export of certain echinoderms.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. This bill contains 1 directed 
rulemaking. Section 1 of the bill requires the United States 
Fish and Wildlife Service to amend section 14.92 of title 50, 
Code of Federal Regulations.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.


    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing