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2d Session SENATE Report
Calendar No. 678
ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES CONSERVATION ACT
R E P O R T
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
(For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
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
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
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
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
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
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:
As noted above, sections 6 through 9 of the reported bill
would have an economic impact on some individuals and
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.
The reported bill would have little, if any, impact on the
personal privacy of United States citizens.
S. 1911 as reported should not significantly increase
paperwork requirements for individuals and businesses.
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
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
Sec. 7. Pelagic Longline Fishing Vessel Permit Holder Compensation
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
Subsection (b) makes any vessel ineligible for such program
if the vessel or permits are transferred after November 10,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.