A picture of Representative Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Madeleine B.
Democrat GU 0

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  • The Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2013

    by Representative Madeleine Z. Bordallo

    Posted on 2013-01-03

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    BORDALLO of guam in the house of representatives Thursday, January 3, 2013 Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, today I reintroduce legislation to strengthen enforcement mechanisms to stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Illegal fishing threatens the economic and social infrastructure of fishing communities, and the security of the United States and our allies around the world, by decreasing opportunities for legitimate and conscientious fishermen.

    Guam, and the other Pacific islands, host rich fisheries resources, including pristine reefs, diverse communities of reef fish, and large populations of sharks and valuable tuna; important economic and cultural assets for the islands. IUU fishing threatens these resources. There have been several incidents of foreign fishing vessels operating within the United States' EEZ with impunity--a significant national security and economic risk to our country.

    This problem can be particularly acute in places like Guam, where the EEZ is vast, and where the United States Coast Guard, despite its best efforts, has insufficient resources to patrol all of our waters. The United States' Pacific lands represent 43% of the EEZ. Our focus should be on the posture of our Coast Guard in the Asia-Pacific region. The Navy and Coast Guard have recognized the economic and security threats posed by illegal fishing in Oceania and it is incumbent on the Administration and Congress to put resources towards these requirements.

    The loss of economic opportunity weakens our allies in the Pacific and strengthens resource conflicts in the region. Recent reports have documented that IUU fishing accounts for between 10 and 22% of the reported global fish catch, or $9-24 billion in gross revenues each year (MRAG, 2009, Sumaila et al., 2006 and Agnew et al., 2009). The Coast Guard estimates that over $1.7 billion is lost annually to IUU fishing in the Pacific Islands. Additional action is needed from Congress if we are to be successful in combating IUU fishing and the depletion of fish stocks worldwide. This bill will help to provide our Coast Guard with the tools to better enforce regulations throughout the sector.

    The ``Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2013,'' which I introduced today, further enhances the enforcement authority of NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard to regulate IUU fishing. This bill would amend international and regional fishery management organization (RFMO) agreements to incorporate the civil penalties, permit sanctions, criminal offenses, civil forfeitures and enforcement sections of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. It would strengthen enforcement authority of NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard to inspect conveyances, facilities, and records involving the storage, processing, transport and trade of fish and fish products, and to detain fish and fish products for up to five days while an investigation is ongoing.

    In addition, this bill makes technical adjustments allowing NOAA to more effectively carry out current IUU identification mandates, including extending the duration of time for identification of violators from the preceding two years to the preceding three years. This bill broadens data sharing authority to enable NOAA to share information with foreign governments and clarifies that all information collected may be shared with international organizations and foreign governments for the purpose of conducting enforcement. This bill would also establish an international cooperation and assistance program to provide technical expertise to other nations to help them address IUU fishing. This bill, however, does not authorize new funding or appropriations. The bill is a cost neutral measure that would enhance our nation's security.

    Finally, this bill implements the Antigua Convention, an important international agreement that provides critical updates to the principles, functions, and processes of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to manage fisheries in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The Antigua Convention modernizes the IATTC and increases its capacity to combat IUU fishing and illegal imports of tuna product. Without implementing legislation, the U.S. does not have the authorities necessary to satisfy its commitments under the Antigua Convention, including addressing IUU in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

    Increased enforcement increases stability among our allies in the Western Pacific. Many nations depend upon fishing as a vital component of their national economy. Fishing communities are the lifeblood of Guam, part of a cultural history extending back centuries. Protecting our fishermen from illegal fishing enhances economic opportunities and protects cultural and natural resources that our communities rely upon. IUU fishermen are ``free riders'' who benefit unfairly from the sacrifices made by U.S. fishermen and others for the sake of proper fisheries conservation and management.

    I would like to thank Reps. Markey, Sablan, Pierluisi, and Christensen for joining me as original cosponsors and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this important bill through the legislative process.


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