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106th Congress 
 2d Session                      SENATE                          Report
                                                                106-339
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       Calendar No. 678

 
           ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES CONSERVATION ACT

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 OF THE

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                    on

                                S. 1911

 

                                     

                 July 12, 2000.--Ordered to be printed

                               ------

                    U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFFICE
79-010                      WASHINGTON : 2000



       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                       one hundred sixth congress
                             second session

                     JOHN McCAIN, Arizona, Chairman
TED STEVENS, Alaska                  ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, South Carolina
CONRAD BURNS, Montana                DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii
SLADE GORTON, Washington             JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West 
TRENT LOTT, Mississippi                  Virginia
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas          JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
OLYMPIA SNOWE, Maine                 JOHN B. BREAUX, Louisiana
JOHN ASHCROFT, Missouri              RICHARD H. BRYAN, Nevada
BILL FRIST, Tennessee                BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota
SPENCER ABRAHAM, Michigan            RON WYDEN, Oregon
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas                MAX CLELAND, Georgia
                       Mark Buse, Staff Director
                   Ann H. Choiniere, General Counsel
               Kevin D. Kayes, Democratic Staff Director
                  Moses Boyd, Democratic Chief Counsel
                Gregg Elias, Democratic General Counsel


                                                       Calendar No. 678
106th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     106-339

======================================================================




           ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES CONSERVATION ACT

                                _______
                                

                 July 12, 2000.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. McCain, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1911]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 1911) ``A bill to conserve 
Atlantic highly migratory species of fish, and for other 
purposes'', having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon with an amendment (in the nature of a substitute) and 
recommends that the bill (as amended) do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

  The purposes of S. 1911, the Atlantic Highly Migratory 
Species Conservation Act of 1999, are: to establish a program 
to reduce the bycatch of billfish and juvenile and undersized 
swordfish by United States pelagic longline fishing vessels 
within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone through time-
area closures for such fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and South 
Atlantic Ocean based on an analysis of bycatch data; to 
minimize the adverse economic impacts on United States 
commercial fishermen and fishing communities; to prevent, to 
the extent practicable, displacement of fishing effort 
resulting from the conservation measures; and to establish a 
comprehensive research program on fishing methods to reduce 
bycatch in the United States pelagic longline fisheries.

                          Background and Needs

  In 1967, the United States ratified the International 
Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. Pursuant to 
the treaty, the United States entered into obligations to 
conduct scientific research on Atlantic highly migratory 
species of fish (HMS) including, among others, North Atlantic 
swordfish and Atlantic species of billfish such as blue marlin, 
white marlin and spearfish, and to implement the conservation 
recommendations of the International Commission for the 
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) with respect to these 
species. ICCAT is responsible for the conservation of tunas and 
other HMS in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. ICCAT's 
objective is to maintain populations of these species of fish 
at levels that will permit the maximum sustainable catch. 
Atlantic HMS are domestically managed, pursuant to the 
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
(Magnuson-Stevens Act), directly by the Secretary of Commerce 
rather than the regional fishery management councils primarily 
because the range of these species extends over five council 
management areas.
  Atlantic HMS have been generally overfished and require 
effective conservation and management measures. In its most 
recent analyses, ICCAT's scientific body, the Standing 
Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS), estimated that a 
number of key stocks of highly migratory species have biomass 
levels below those needed to produce their respective maximum 
sustainable yields. For example, the 1999 SCRS stock assessment 
estimated that the North Atlantic swordfish stock was at 65 
percent of the necessary biomass to produce maximum sustainable 
yield (MSY). The 1997 SCRS stock assessment estimated that the 
Atlantic blue marlin stock was at 24 percent and the Atlantic 
white marlin stock was at 23 percent of the biomass necessary 
to produce MSY. In its most recent stock assessment for 
Atlantic sailfish/spearfish, the SCRS estimated these stocks 
were at 62 percent of the necessary biomass to produce MSY.
  Both Congress and ICCAT have made the rebuilding of 
overfished stocks of Atlantic HMS a priority. In 1996, Congress 
adopted the Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA), which amended the 
Magnuson-Stevens Act, and set forth provisions emphasizing the 
need to rebuild overfished stocks of Atlantic HMS through 
ICCAT. Pursuant to the SFA, the National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS) identified North Atlantic swordfish, Atlantic 
blue marlin, Atlantic white marlin, Atlantic sailfish/
spearfish, and other highly migratory species of fish as 
overfished. In 1999, ICCAT adopted an internationally binding 
10-year rebuilding plan for North Atlantic swordfish. 
Furthermore, ICCAT has confirmed that a reduction in the 
mortality of juvenile swordfish will contribute substantially 
to the rebuilding of North Atlantic swordfish. In 1998, SCRS 
issued a report that expressed ``concern about the high catches 
(landings plus discards) of small swordfish'' and ``emphasized 
that gains in the yield could accrue if fishing mortality on 
small fish could be further reduced.'' In 1999, ICCAT adopted a 
resolution requesting SCRS to analyze and identify times and 
areas for possible closure in the Atlantic that would 
contribute to the protection of undersized North and South 
Atlantic swordfish.
  Similarly, reducing the bycatch mortality of species of 
Atlantic billfish, including Atlantic blue marlin, Atlantic 
white marlin, and Atlantic sailfish/spearfish, will also 
contribute substantially to the rebuilding of these stocks. 
Although domestic longline vessels have been prohibited from 
landing or retaining all billfish since 1988, this measure 
alone has not been adequate to halt the decline of billfish 
stocks.
  S. 1911, as amended, would close certain areas of the 
Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico in the United States 
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to pelagic longline fishing. The 
design and implementation of discrete, scientifically-based 
time-area closures for pelagic longline fishing within the 
United States EEZ can achieve several important fishery 
conservation and management objectives. Consistent with ICCAT 
findings, such time-area closures can significantly reduce the 
mortality caused by the bycatch of juvenile swordfish, Atlantic 
billfish, Atlantic large coastal sharks, and other HMS. In 
addition, such time-area closures can substantially reduce 
existing conflicts between the commercial pelagic longline 
fishery and the recreational fishery for highly migratory 
species in certain areas of the United States EEZ. Finally, 
establishing time-area closures in United States waters can 
provide a model and basis for the United States to pursue the 
same conservation concept more broadly in international waters 
at ICCAT.
  The bill establishes three time-area closures, or 
conservation zones, which will close over 160,000 square 
nautical miles of ocean to pelagic longline fishing. According 
to NMFS data, closure of these areas, many of which are bycatch 
hot spots, will significantly reduce the bycatch mortality of 
billfish and undersized swordfish. A reduction in bycatch would 
dramatically increase the chance of rebuilding these valuable 
fish stocks to sustainable levels.
  The establishment of such time-area closures in the Gulf and 
South Atlantic will necessarily impose substantial adverse 
economic impacts on certain United States commercial pelagic 
longline fishermen, as well as their families and communities. 
The Magnuson-Stevens Act addressed the need to minimize adverse 
economic impacts of fishery conservation measures, most notably 
in section 301(a)(8) (National Standard 8) and section 312(b) 
(Fishing Capacity Reduction Program). Consistent with these 
provisions, Congress has authorized and appropriated funds for 
vessel buy back programs in both the North Pacific and New 
England regions in order to mitigate the socio-economic impacts 
of certain fishery conservation and management objectives.
  The anticipated adverse economic impacts of time-area 
closures on vessel owners and operators could be minimized by a 
fair and equitable buyout of certain pelagic longline fishing 
permits and licenses. In particular, those pelagic longline 
fishermen who sustain substantial adverse economic impacts from 
such time-area closures should be eligible to participate in 
such a buyout.
  The establishment of these time-area closures may also have 
the effect of causing significant displacement of pelagic 
longline fishing vessels into areas remaining open to pelagic 
longline fishing as well as into other fisheries. Such 
displacement could undermine the conservation objectives of the 
time-area closures and cause additional fishery conservation 
problems and user-group conflicts. Such displacement-associated 
problems could also be minimized by the development of a permit 
buy back program that both permanently retires from use a 
substantial portion of pelagic longline permit packages issued 
to qualifying vessels and prohibits the transfer of such 
vessels to other United States and foreign commercial 
fisheries.
  Large-scale time-area closures for reducing bycatch in 
pelagic longline fisheries are not well studied, nor are 
alternative uses and configurations of pelagic longline fishing 
gear. There is a need for NMFS to conduct additional scientific 
research, in cooperation with pelagic longline fishing vessels 
and in consultation with the recreational fishing and 
conservation communities, to evaluate time-area closures and 
alternative fishing gear and methods in order to identify the 
most efficient manner to reduce bycatch within the US EEZ.

                          Legislative History

   S. 1911 was introduced on November 10, 1999, by Senator 
Breaux, with Senators Snowe, Hollings, Kerry, Sessions, Shelby 
and Landrieu as original cosponsors. On December 14, 1999, the 
Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries held a field hearing in 
New Orleans on reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and 
on S. 1911, including conservation of highly migratory species. 
Testimony on the bill was provided by the Assistant 
Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service and 
representatives of commercial and recreational fishing 
industries.
  On April 13, 2000, S. 1911 was considered by the Committee in 
an open executive session. Senator Breaux offered an amendment 
in the nature of a substitute and the Committee, without 
objection, ordered S. 1911 reported with amendment.

                      Summary of Major Provisions

  Conservation Zones.--The reported bill would establish three 
conservation zones, or time-area closures, designated by 
specific navigational positions. The Atlantic Conservation Zone 
for Highly Migratory Species (Atlantic Zone) covers an 80,000 
square nautical mile area from the North/South Carolina border 
south through the Florida Straits to the area surrounding Key 
West, Florida, and extends approximately 50 to 150 miles 
offshore, depending on the location. This area is permanently 
closed year-round to pelagic longline fishing.
  The Gulf of Mexico Conservation Zone for Swordfish (Gulf 
Swordfish Zone) covers a 5,400 square nautical mile area of the 
northeastern Gulf of Mexico off the coasts of Louisiana, 
Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. This area is permanently 
closed to pelagic longline fishing during the period of January 
1 to Memorial Day of each year.
  The Gulf of Mexico Conservation Zone for Highly Migratory 
Species (Gulf HMS Zone) covers more than 80,000 square nautical 
miles extending from the Texas-Mexico border eastward to the 
Florida panhandle and extending offshore to approximately the 
500 to 600 fathom (3,000 to 3,600 feet) depth contour. This 
area is closed for a period of five years during the period 
from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year. This larger area 
includes the entire Gulf Swordfish Zone and therefore, extends 
the closure for that area to approximately nine months.
  Analysis of logbook catch data reported to NMFS between 1987 
and 1997 demonstrates that the Atlantic Zone has experienced a 
high incidence of bycatch of juvenile swordfish and billfish. 
This zone also contains the primary area for longline fishing 
for mahi mahi off the coast of South Carolina. These data 
indicate that the Gulf Swordfish Zone is an area of high 
bycatch of undersized swordfish, while the Gulf HMS Zone has 
been a high billfish bycatch area. In sum, historical catch 
data indicate that approximately 52 percent of the total small 
swordfish bycatch reported by United States pelagic longline 
fishermen in the United States EEZ occurs in the three 
conservation zones contained in the reported bill. Similarly, 
approximately 31 percent of the total billfish bycatch reported 
by United States pelagic longline fishermen in the United 
States EEZ occurs in these three areas combined. The closed 
areas, in conjunction with the permit buyback provisions of the 
reported bill are projected (based on past catch data) to 
reduce bycatch as follows: blue marlin by 35 percent; white 
marlin by 16 percent; sailfish by 49 percent; spearfish by 27 
percent; and swordfish by 52 percent.
  Fishing Permit Buyback.--The reported bill authorizes the 
Secretary of Commerce to conduct a voluntary capacity reduction 
program that would ``buy back'' commercial fishing permits from 
qualifying pelagic longline permit holders who are likely to 
sustain adverse economic impacts as a result of the time-area 
closures and, as a result, might consider transferring fishing 
effort to other areas. In addition, the reported bill prohibits 
the vessels to which these permits were issued from 
participating in any other commercial fishery in the United 
States and from reflagging to another country. Based on an 
analysis of historical catch data maintained by NMFS, 
approximately 68 United States boats would be eligible for this 
program. Eligibility for the voluntary permit buy back was 
based on vessel catch history and possession of the directed 
swordfish limited access permit issued to that vessel. Vessels 
were identified as eligible based on an evaluation of data that 
established a vessel--
          (1) reported that at least 35 percent of its annual 
        fishing sets were conducted in the proposed closed 
        areas in any one year from 1992 through 1997;
          (2) reported that it conducted at least 25 pelagic 
        longline gear sets during its qualifying year;
          (3) reported that at least 50 percent of its landings 
        for the 1995-1997 period were comprised of pelagic 
        longline target species, including swordfish, tunas, 
        mahi-mahi, escolar, and oceanic sharks; and
          (4) qualified for a Directed Swordfish Initial 
        Limited Access Permit. In addition, only those persons 
        currently in possession of a Directed Swordfish Initial 
        Limited Access Permit are eligible to receive payment 
        under the bill.
  The program would provide up to two payments to eligible 
permit holders. Each eligible permit holder would receive a 
payment of $125,000 for the surrender of the eligible vessel's 
permit package, consisting of all Federal and state commercial 
fishing permits, including the full longline permit package 
(directed swordfish permit, shark permit, and tuna longline 
permit). In addition, for eligible vessels that landed highly 
migratory species in 1999, the permit holder would be eligible 
for an additional payment equal to the highest value of all 
fish landed by such vessel in one year, between1992 and 1998. 
However, this landing payment shall not exceed $325,000. S. 1911, as 
amended, prohibits the use of the vessel for which a payment is 
received in any United States commercial fishery and the reflagging of 
the vessel in a foreign country. The bill also contains provisions to 
prevent the receipt of windfall profits through this program by those 
who no longer use the eligible vessels to conduct fishing operations, 
and thus have no expectation of future income from the vessel's 
operations. First, the reported bill makes ineligible for the buyout 
those vessels that were sold after November 11, 1999, the date S. 1911 
was introduced. Further, the reported bill provides that vessels that 
reported no landings in 1999 are not eligible to receive any more than 
the initial payment for the permit package, and thus would not receive 
payment based on landings.
  The reported bill authorizes $15 million in Federal funding 
to partially pay for the buy back program. Of this amount, the 
reported bill requires repayment of $10 million, equally 
divided, by certain participants in both recreational and 
commercial fisheries sectors. The commercial and recreational 
share initially will be provided through a guaranteed loan 
under the Federal Ship Financing Program. The commercial share 
of the loan will be repaid by the pelagic longline fleet 
through a per-pound fee, not to exceed five cents per pound, on 
all sales of swordfish of Atlantic origin. The reported bill 
provides alternative repayment approaches for the recreational 
share.
  The recreational share of the payment could come from either 
of two sources. The reported bill authorizes the seven states 
with time-area closures off of their shores (South Carolina, 
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas) 
to voluntarily pay up to 94 percent of the recreational share. 
The allocation of such a payment would be based on the 
percentage of the time-area closures adjacent to the coastline 
and the number of recreational fishermen in each state. If a 
state agrees to make such a payment, the recreational fishermen 
would be provided a highly migratory species (HMS) conservation 
permit at no cost. In the alternative, the recreational share 
would be collected by NMFS through the sale of a $25 Federal 
HMS conservation permit to recreational fishermen in each of 
the affected states. The reported bill prohibits any 
recreational fishing vessel longer than 18 feet from fishing 
for highly migratory species within any of the conservation 
zones unless the vessel has been issued an HMS conservation 
permit.
  Bycatch Reduction Research.--The reported bill authorizes 
NMFS to establish a research program to study methods to reduce 
HMS bycatch mortality in the pelagic longline fisheries in the 
Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. The research program will 
also evaluate the impact of gear changes on protected species. 
The reported bill directs the program to be conducted with 
knowledgeable members of the pelagic longline and recreational 
industries and members of the conservation community. The 
reported bill authorizes $3.4 million for this program.
  The reported bill also requires the Secretary to monitor 
waters in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to determine if there 
has been a substantial net increase in the number of vessels or 
fishing effort from the remaining pelagic longline fleet into 
these areas and whether any increase has caused a significant 
negative impact on the recreational billfish catch. The 
Secretary of Commerce must report any such increase to Congress 
for further action.
  Interim Regulations.--The reported bill prohibits the 
Secretary from expanding the conservation zones established 
under the bill or from proposing, approving, or implementing 
any other time-area closures for pelagic longline fishing in 
the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico for at least four years. 
This requirement is intended to prevent multiple and 
unwarranted regulatory changes to the existing time-area 
closures before the benefits of such closures and the results 
of the bycatch reduction research program established in the 
reported bill have been evaluated.
  However, the reported bill contains several limited 
exceptions to this provision. For instance, the conservation 
zones established under the reported bill may be amended within 
that time frame if there is an emergency situation with respect 
to the conservation of Atlantic HMS which will not be addressed 
in a timely manner by ICCAT, the international body responsible 
for managing HMS. In addition, the reported bill authorizes 
changes to the time-area closures to implement future 
recommendations of ICCAT, or any technical and conforming 
changes necessary to ensure public safety and enforcement of 
the Act. The reported bill also clarifies that this provision 
does not alter the Secretary's existing authority under the 
Marine Mammal Protection Act or the Endangered Species Act.
  Vessel Monitoring System.--The reported bill requires pelagic 
longline fishing vessels that do not participate in the 
voluntary buy back program to install vessel monitoring systems 
(VMS). These electronic devices allow NMFS to locate fishing 
vessels at anytime to ensure compliance with the time-area 
closures. The bill authorizes $2.25 million for installation 
and monitoring of the VMS.
  Nullification.--If Congress fails to appropriate adequate 
funds to complete the buy back program and initiate the 
research program, then none of the provisions in the reported 
bill will be effective, including the reported bill's 
requirement for longlining vessels to install and use VMS.

                            Estimated Costs

  In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, June 29, 2000.
Hon. John McCain,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. 
        Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1911, the Atlantic 
Highly Migratory Species Conservation Act of 1999.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Mark Hadley 
(for federal costs), Victoria Heid Hall (for the state and 
local impact), and Natalie Tawil (for the private-sector 
impact).
            Sincerely,
                                           Steven Lieberman
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

S. 1911--Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Conservation Act of 1999

    Summary: S. 1911 would limit longline fishing in over 
160,000 square miles of U.S. ocean waters and would establish 
civil and criminal penalties for violations of this limitation. 
The bill also would direct the Secretary of Commerce to buy out 
the owners of 68 specified fishing vessels. The Secretary would 
offer between $125,000 and $450,000 to purchase the fishing 
permits or licenses associated with each vessel. The bill would 
require the remaining longline fishing vessels to carry 
monitoring devices when fishing in restricted areas.
    S. 1911 would authorize buyouts totaling up to $25 
million--$15 million of this sum would be subject to 
appropriation, and $10 million would come from direct spending 
authority provided by the bill. The bill would establish fees 
on recreational fishing vessels and on swordfish dealers to 
recover $10 million in buyout costs plus interest. Finally, the 
bill would authorize the appropriation of about $6 million to 
purchase monitoring devices, and for research on reducing the 
bycatch mortality of migrating fish.
    CBO estimates that implementing S. 1911 would cost $21 
million over the 2001-2004 period, assuming appropriation of 
the necessary amounts. We also estimate that enacting the bill 
would increase direct spending by $10 million in 2001; but that 
starting in 2001, this direct spending cost would be partially 
offset by fees paid by owners of recreational fishing vessels. 
We estimate those fees would total about $5 million over the 
2001-2005 period and additional amounts in subsequent years. 
The bill would increase revenues by imposing charges on 
swordfish dealers totaling $2 million over the 2001-2005 period 
and additional amounts in subsequent years. Finally, S. 1911 
would affect direct spending and receipts by establishing new 
criminal and civil penalties, but those changes would probably 
be insignificant. Because S. 1911 would affect direct spending 
and receipts, pay-as-you-go procedures would apply.
    S. 1911 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined 
in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). The states affected 
by the bill could spend a total of about $5 million over the 
2001-2005 period if they elect to cover a share of the federal 
government's costs for buyouts. Any state contributions would 
be voluntary. The bill would impose private-sector mandates, 
but CBO estimates that the total direct costs of those mandates 
would not exceed the annual threshold established in UMRA ($109 
million in 2000, adjusted annually for inflation) for any of 
the first five years that the mandates are in effect.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 1911 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 370 
(commerce and housing credit).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                  By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
                                                              2000     2001     2002     2003     2004     2005
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Estimated Authorization Level.............................        0       21        0        0        0        0
Estimated Outlays.........................................        0       19        1    (\1\)    (\1\)        0

                                           CHANGES IN DIRECT SPENDING

Estimated Budget Authority................................        0        9       -1       -1       -1       -1
Estimated Outlays.........................................        0        9       -1       -1       -1       -1

                                               CHANGES IN REVENUES

Estimated Revenues........................................        0    (\1\)    (\1\)    (\1\)    (\1\)    (\1\)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Less than $500,000 a year.

    Basis of estimate: Implementing S. 1911 would cost about 
$21 million in discretionary spending over the 2001-2004 
period, primarily for buyouts. CBO estimates that enacting S. 
1911 would lead to a net increase in direct spending of about 
$5 million over the 2001-2005 period, and would increase 
revenues by about $2 million over the same period.

Spending subject to appropriation

    S. 1911 would authorize additional discretionary spending 
for buyouts, monitoring devices for fishing vessels, and fish 
research.
    Buyouts. S. 1911 would authorize $15 million to be 
appropriated to the Secretary of Commerce to make buyout offers 
to owners of certain fishing vessels that would be adversely 
affected by the fishing restrictions in the bill. CBO estimates 
that $25 million would be necessary to complete all such 
buyouts. (Section 7 would make $10 million available for this 
purpose without further appropriation--see Direct Spending 
discussion below.)
    Monitoring devices and research. S. 1911 would authorize 
the appropriation of $6 million to purchase fishing vessel 
monitoring devices and to conduct research on reducing the 
bycatch mortality of migrating fish. Based on the historical 
spending pattern of similar programs at the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), CBO estimates that 
implementing these provisions would cost about $4 million in 
2001 and a total of $6 million over the 2001-2004 period.

 Direct spending and revenues

    S. 1911 would increase direct spending and revenues by 
directing the Secretary of Commerce to make buyouts without 
further appropriation, by imposing new fees and charges, and by 
establishing new civil and criminal penalties.
    Buyouts. S. 1911 would direct the Secretary to use up to 
$10 million for buyouts in addition to any appropriations 
provided for this purpose. Based on the number of vessels 
likely to accept such offers, CBO estimates this provision 
would increase direct spending by $10 million in 2001.
    The bill would authorize the appropriation of $100,000 for 
buyout assistance that is characterized as a loan subject to 
the Federal Credit Reform Act. Under Credit Reform, a direct 
loan is defined as disbursement of funds to a nonfederal 
borrower under a contract that requires the repayment. A 
disbursement cannot be considered a direct loan, however, if 
the duty to repay the government arises from an exercise of 
sovereign power, tort liability, or some other noncontract 
obligation. S. 1911 would require swordfish dealers and owners 
of recreational fishing vessels to repay these buyout funds, 
but it would do so through an exercise of sovereign power, not 
through loan repayment contracts. Therefore, we do not believe 
that the buyout assistance in this provision would constitute a 
loan program.
    Fees on recreational fishing vessels. S. 1911 would 
establish a $25 fee on owners of vessels more than 18 feet in 
length who wish to engage in recreational fishing in an area 
that would be restricted under the bill. This fee would remain 
in place until NOAA collects $5 million plus interest. The bill 
would give states the option to eliminate the fee on 
recreational fishing vessels in that state by paying the 
state's share of the $5 million as specified in the bill. Based 
on information from states that would be affected by this bill, 
CBO expects no state would choose this option. Based on the 
number of vessels that would be affected by the bill, CBO 
estimates this provision would increase offsetting receipts, 
and thereby lower direct spending, by about $1 million a year.
    Charges on swordfish dealers. S. 1911 would require the 
Secretary of Commerce to charge swordfish dealers up to 5 cents 
per pound of Atlantic swordfish sold. Based on the annual catch 
of Atlantic swordfish and the number of vessel owners that are 
likely to accept a buyout offer, CBO estimates that such 
charges would increase governmental receipts (revenues) by less 
than $500,000 each year, or about $2 million over the 2001-2005 
period. This charge would continue until the Secretary of 
Commerce collects $5 million plus interest.
    Criminal fines and seizure of assets. S. 1911 would create 
new criminal fines for violations of longline fishing laws. 
Because those prosecuted and convicted under S. 1911 could be 
subject to criminal fines, the federal government might collect 
additional fines if the bill is enacted. Collections of such 
fines are recorded in the budget as governmental receipts 
(revenues), which are deposited in the Crime Victims Fund and 
spent in subsequent years. CBO expects that any additional 
receipts and direct spending would not be significant.
    Persons prosecuted and convicted under the bill also could 
be subject to the seizure of certain assets (including vessels, 
gear, and cargo) by the federal government. Proceeds from the 
sale of such assets would be deposited into the Assets 
Forfeiture Fund and spent from that fund, mostly in the same 
year. Thus, enacting S. 1911 could increase both revenues 
deposited into the fund and direct spending from the fund. 
However, CBO estimates that any increased revenues or spending 
would be negligible.
    Civil fines. The bill also would provide for civil 
penalties against anyone who uses a commercial fishing vessel 
in violation of the bill's provision. Payments of these civil 
penalties would be recorded as governmental receipts to the 
Treasury. CBO expects that any increase in civil fines as a 
result of this provision would not be significant.
    Pay-as-you-go considerations: The Balanced Budget and 
Emergency Deficit Control Act sets up pay-as-you-go procedures 
for legislation affecting direct spending or receipts. The net 
changes in outlays and governmental receipts that are subject 
to pay-as-you-go procedures are shown in the following table. 
For the purposes of enforcing pay-as-you-go procedures, only 
the effects in the current year, the budget year, and the 
succeeding four years are counted.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                       By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      2000   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005   2006   2007   2008   2009   2010
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Changes in outlays.................      0      9     -1     -1     -1     -1      0      0      0      0      0
Changes in receipts................      0      0      0      0      0      0      0      0      0      0      0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Estimated impact on state, local, and tribal governments: 
S. 1911 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in 
UMRA. Under this bill, the affected states (Alabama, Florida, 
Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas) may 
elect to cover a share of the federal government's payments to 
certain permit holders as compensation for longline fishing 
limitations. Total state costs (called the ``recreational 
share'') could be as much as $5 million. The bill specifies 
each state's share of the total based on the state's percentage 
of the coastline adjacent to areas closed to fishing and the 
number of marine anglers in the state. If a state chooses not 
pay the recreational share of the federal compensation program, 
the bill would direct the Secretary of Commerce to charge 
vessels registered in that state that wish to engage in certain 
recreational fishing a fee for an annual fishery conservation 
permit.
    Estimated impact on the private sector: S. 1911 would 
impose private-sector mandates on owners of commercial and 
recreational fishing vessels and swordfish dealers that 
participate in the migratory species fisheries in the Atlantic 
and the Gulf of Mexico. CBO estimates that the total direct 
costs of those mandates would not exceed the annual threshold 
established in UMRA ($109 million in 2000, adjusted annually 
for inflation) for any of the first five years that the 
mandates are in effect.
    First, the bill would close parts of the Atlantic Ocean to 
longline commercial fishing. Owners of commercial vessels that 
operate in those fisheries would be forced to move 
theiroperations or close their businesses. According to the National 
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), about 900 commercial vessels would be 
affected to some degree by the fishery closures. According to NMFS, the 
total gross revenues of vessels in the affected fisheries was almost 
$30 million in 1998. Thus, CBO estimates that the cost of complying 
with this mandate, measured in lost net income, would be well below the 
private-sector threshold.
    S. 1911 also would establish a program to compensate the 
owners of commercial vessels that would be most affected by 
that mandate. The program would be set up to buy back the 
commercial fishing permits of 68 vessel owners identified in 
the bill. Vessel owners accepting such a buyout would lose 
eligibility for that vessel to participate in any commercial 
fishery or to transfer it to foreign control. According to 
industry sources, the owners of the vast majority of eligible 
vessels would participate in the buyout program.
    Second, the bill would impose a mandate on swordfish 
dealers by requiring them to pay the federal government 5 cents 
per pound for Atlantic swordfish sold to fund a share of the 
buyout program. The fee would begin one year after enactment 
and remain in effect until the dealers have paid a total of 
about $2 million over the 2001-2005 period.
    Third, the bill would impose a mandate by requiring owners 
of recreational vessels exceeding 18 feet who fish in the 
affected fisheries to have a federal fishery conservation 
permit. Owners of such vessels would be required to pay an 
annual permit fee of $25; and the fee would remain in effect 
until a total of about $5 million had been paid to fund the 
remaining share of the buyout program. CBO estimates that 
owners of recreational vessels would incur costs of about $1 
million each year from 2001 through 2005 to comply with this 
mandate. If recreational vessels are registered in a state that 
chooses to pay a share of the buyout program funding as 
designated in the bill, the annual permit for those 
recreational vessels would be free.
    Last, the bill would require longline vessels that continue 
to operate in areas subject to closure under this bill to carry 
vessel monitoring devices. CBO estimates the direct cost of 
complying with this mandate would be over $2 million in 2001. 
S. 1911 would make the federal government responsible for any 
costs attributable to the purchase and installation of those 
devices and would authorize appropriations to cover those 
costs. The bill provides that, in the event that the Congress 
failed to appropriate adequate funds for this program, the 
requirement to carry such devices would have no effect.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Mark Hadley. Impact on 
state, local, and tribal governments: Victoria Heid Hall. 
Impact on the private sector: Natalie Tawil.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

  In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       number of persons covered

  S. 1911 as reported by the Committee authorizes a program to 
reduce the bycatch of billfish and juvenile and undersized 
swordfish by United States pelagic longline fishing vessels 
within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone through time-
area closures for such fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and South 
Atlantic Ocean based on an analysis of bycatch data. The 
reported bill also authorizes a program to minimize the adverse 
economic impacts on United States commercial fishermen and 
fishing communities and to prevent, to the extent practicable, 
displacement of fishing effort resulting from the conservation 
measures. Several sections of the reported bill would impact 
some individuals and businesses, and the effects of these 
sections can be clarified as follows:

                            economic impact

  As noted above, sections 6 through 9 of the reported bill 
would have an economic impact on some individuals and 
businesses.
  Section 6 of the reported bill would close more than 160,000 
square nautical miles to pelagic longline fishing. This 
provision would prohibit a number of commercial fishing 
operations from longline fishing in certain historic areas. 
However, the conservation benefit resulting from such closures 
should result in healthier stocks of important highly migratory 
species of fish.
  Section 7 of the reported bill would establish a voluntary 
capacity reduction program to buy back commercial fishing 
permits for certain eligible vessels that sustain substantial 
adverse economic impacts as a result of the time-area closures 
for bycatch required by section 6.
  Section 8 of the reported bill would establish certain 
restrictions on the vessels of permit holders who accept 
payment under section 7.
  Section 9 of the reported bill would establish a fee system 
for servicing the debt on the commercial and recreational share 
of the Federal loan associated with payment under section 7.

                                privacy

  The reported bill would have little, if any, impact on the 
personal privacy of United States citizens.

                               paperwork

  S. 1911 as reported should not significantly increase 
paperwork requirements for individuals and businesses.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title

  This section of the reported bill cites the short title of 
the bill as the ``Highly Migratory Species Conservation Act of 
1999.''

Sec. 2. Findings

  This section of the reported bill sets forth the scientific, 
legal and policy bases for the legislation.

Sec. 3. Purposes

  This section of the reported bill sets forth the purposes and 
objectives of the legislation including the conservation and 
rebuilding of overfished stocks of highly migratory species 
through the reduction in bycatch mortality of such species and 
the protection of nursery and spawning areas within the United 
States EEZ. The bill is also intended to minimize adverse 
economic consequences of such conservation measures on United 
States fishermen consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Sec. 4. Policy

  This section of the reported bill sets forth the policy of 
Congress that all United States fishermen shall be treated 
fairly and equitably in achieving national and international 
fishery conservation and management objectives for highly 
migratory species in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

Sec. 5. Definitions

  This section of the reported bill sets forth the definitions 
of certain terms used in the reported bill. With a few 
necessary exceptions, terms used in the reported bill are 
identical to those used in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Sec. 6. Highly migratory species conservation zones

  Subsection (a) requires certain geographical areas along the 
Atlantic coast defined by specific navigational coordinates, 
referred to as the Highly Migratory Species Conservation Zone, 
to be permanently closed to pelagic longline fishing.
  Subsection (b) requires certain geographical areas in the 
Gulf of Mexico defined by specific navigational coordinates, 
referred to as the Gulf of Mexico Conservation Zone for 
Swordfish, to be permanently closed to pelagic longline fishing 
from January 1 through Memorial Day.
  Subsection (c) requires certain geographical areas in the 
Gulf of Mexico defined by specific navigational coordinates, 
referred to as the Gulf of Mexico Conservation Zone for Highly 
Migratory Species, to be closed to pelagic longline fishing for 
five years, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  Subsection (d) authorizes NMFS to allow certain pelagic 
longline fishing and research in the conservation zones. This 
section prohibits the sale of any such catch, unless authorized 
by NMFS.

Sec. 7. Pelagic Longline Fishing Vessel Permit Holder Compensation 
        Program

  Subsection (a) establishes a voluntary capacity reduction 
program to buy back commercial fishing permits of certain 
eligible vessels that are projected to sustain substantial 
adverse economic impacts as a result of the time-area closures 
for bycatch reduction required by the reported bill. Further, 
it identifies 68 vessels as those eligible to participate in 
the program.
  Subsection (b) makes any vessel ineligible for such program 
if the vessel or permits are transferred after November 10, 
1999.
  Subsection (c) requires the Secretary to notify each eligible 
pelagic longline permit holder of the voluntary capacity 
reduction program established under this section.
  Subsection (d) establishes a permit package compensation 
amount of $125,000 for each eligible permit holder.
  Subsection (e) authorizes the Secretary to establish a 
landings payment determination, not to exceed $325,000, for 
each eligible permit holder.
  Subsection (f) authorizes the Secretary to offer each 
eligible permit holder who participates in the voluntary 
program a payment amount determined in accordance with this 
section.
  Subsection (g) authorizes a detailed procedure and time frame 
for the permit holders of eligible vessels to accept and 
receive a payment from the Secretary. It requires any permit 
holder that accepts payment for an eligible vessel to surrender 
to the Federal government all commercial fishing permits 
applicable to such vessel.
  Subsection (h) authorizes the Secretary to make such payments 
in accordance with this section.
  Subsection (i) authorizes a $10 million loan to be financed 
through the Federal Ship Financing Fund to partially pay for 
the voluntary buy back program. Repayment of the loan will be 
equally divided between a commercial share and a recreational 
share.
  Subsection (j) authorizes $15 million to pay for the 
remainder of the voluntary buy back program.
  Subsection (k) requires that 40 percent of the payment 
authorized under this section is derived from the commercial 
and recreational shares and that 60 percent of the payment is 
derived from funds appropriated for payment under this section.

Sec. 8. Restrictions on vessels

  Subsection (a) revokes all commercial fishing permits of any 
permit holder who accepts payment under section 7.
  Subsection (b) revokes the fisheries endorsement of any 
vessel whose owner accepts payment under section 7.
  Subsection (c) prohibits the transfer of any vessel to 
foreign ownership or control whose owner accepts payment under 
section 7.
  Subsection (d) establishes civil and criminal penalties for 
violations of the reported bill.
  Subsection (e) requires the Secretary of Transportation to 
ensure that each vessel whose commercial fishing permits and 
licenses have been revoked, information is maintained in the 
vessel identification system under chapter 125 of title 46, 
United States Code, to state that such vessel is prohibited 
from engaging in commercial fishing anywhere in the world.

Sec. 9. Repayment of direct loan

  This section of the reported bill establishes a fee system 
for servicing the debt on the commercial and recreation shares 
of the Federal Ship Financing Program loan for the respective 
costs of the permit buy back program.

Sec. 10. Prohibited act under Magnuson-Stevens Act

  This section of the reported bill provides that any violation 
of this Act shall be deemed to be a prohibited act under 
section 307(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and subject to 
the penalties therein.

Sec. 11. Billfish Bycatch Mortality Reduction Research Program

  Subsection (a) authorizes NMFS to establish a research 
program to study methods to reduce HMS bycatch mortality in the 
pelagic longline fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic 
Ocean. The research program will also evaluate the impact of 
gear changes on protected species.
  Subsection (b) requires the program to be designed and 
conducted with knowledgeable members of the pelagic longline 
and recreational industries and members of the conservation 
community.
  Subsection (c) requires the Secretary to monitor waters in 
the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to determine if there has been a 
substantial net increase in the number of vessels or fishing 
effort from the remaining pelagic longline fleet and whether 
any increase has caused a significant negative impact on the 
recreational billfish catch. Any such increase must be reported 
by the Secretary of Commerce to Congress.

Sec. 12. Interim regulations

  Subsection (a) provides a minimum amount of time for Congress 
to act on the results of the Highly Migratory Species Bycatch 
Mortality Reduction Research Program before the Secretary may 
implement any time-area closures for pelagic longline fishing 
that are in addition to or otherwise expand those required in 
this Act.
  Subsection (b) authorizes the Secretary to take additional 
action to protect highly migratory species in emergency 
situations and to meet the requirements of the Marine Mammal 
Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Sec. 13. Vessel monitoring device

  Subsection (a) requires all United States pelagic longline 
vessels fishing for highly migratory species to carry a vessel 
monitoring device approved by NMFS.
  Subsection (b) provides that vessels that accept the buy-back 
program under section 7 are not required to carry a vessel 
monitoring device.
  Subsection (c) authorizes the Secretary to fund the purchase 
and installation of such vessel monitoring devices on pelagic 
longline vessel fishing in the Atlantic HMS fishery.

Sec. 14. Nullification

  This section of the reported bill provides that the 
provisions of this bill are not effective if adequate funds are 
not appropriated by Congress.

Sec. 15. Authorization of appropriations

  This section of the reported bill authorizes $2.25 million 
for the vessel monitoring system required by this bill. This 
section also authorizes $3 million for the Highly Migratory 
Species Bycatch Mortality Reduction Research program authorized 
by this bill.

                        Changes in Existing Law

  In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the bill as 
reported would make no change to existing law.