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115th Congress  }                                           {   Report
                                SENATE                          
2d Session      }                                           {   115-400
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       

               ENDANGERED SALMON PREDATION PREVENTION ACT

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                S. 3119
                                
                                
                                

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]




               November 29, 2018.--Ordered to be printed
               
               
                        _________ 
                                  
             U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE
 89-010              WASHINGTON : 2018                     
               
               
               
       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                     one hundred fifteenth congress
                             second session

                   JOHN THUNE, South Dakota, Chairman
ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi         BILL NELSON, Florida
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
TED CRUZ, Texas                      AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
DEAN HELLER, Nevada                  TOM UDALL, New Mexico
JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma            GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
MIKE LEE, Utah                       TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia  MARGARET WOOD HASSAN, New Hampshire

CORY GARDNER, Colorado               CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO, Nevada
TODD C. YOUNG, Indiana               JON TESTER, Montana
                       Nick Rossi, Staff Director
                 Adrian Arnakis, Deputy Staff Director
                    Jason Van Beek, General Counsel
                 Kim Lipsky, Democratic Staff Director
           Christopher Day, Democratic Deputy Staff Director
           
           
           
           


                                                       Calendar No. 702
                                                       
                                                       
                                                       
115th Congress  }                                           {   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session     }                                           {  115-400

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



 
               ENDANGERED SALMON PREDATION PREVENTION ACT

                                _______
                                

               November 29, 2018.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

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

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 3119]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 3119) to allow for the taking 
of sea lions on the Columbia River and its tributaries to 
protect endangered and threatened species of salmon and other 
nonlisted fish species, 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 purpose of this legislation is to allow the Secretary 
of Commerce to issue a permit for the intentional lethal taking 
of individually identifiable sea lions by the State of 
Washington, Oregon, or Idaho, or by a tribal entity for the 
purpose of protecting endangered anadromous fish such as salmon 
or lamprey, and to define all sea lions found above mile 112 of 
the Colombia River as individually identifiable.

                          Background and Needs

    Pacific salmon are an important U.S. fishery, generating 
approximately $4.95 billion in revenue between 2006 and 
2015.\1\ Twenty-eight species of salmon are currently listed as 
threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act 
(ESA),\2\ 13 of which migrate through the Lower Colombia River 
and on to parts of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. These species 
include the Lower Columbia River chinook, steelhead, coho, and 
chum salmon (Figure 1). In addition, steelhead trout, eulachon, 
lamprey, and sturgeon also migrate through this corridor. These 
fish also play an important and traditional role for the Tribes 
of the Columbia River Basin. The National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) most recent recovery plan 
for Lower Colombia River coho, chinook, and chum salmon and 
steelhead lists predation, specifically by California sea 
lions, as a significant factor in the initial species listings 
and a hurdle to their recovery. As many as 80 sea lions have 
been observed congregating at the Bonneville Dam and the most 
recent estimates indicate that sea lions consumed an estimated 
4.7 percent of salmon and 9 percent of steelhead for the 
observed summer and winter runs.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\U.S. Department of Commerce. 2015. Fisheries Economics of the 
United States, 2015 (https://repository.library.noaa.gov/view/noaa/
16121) (accessed July 19, 2018).
    \2\16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531 et seq.
    \3\U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 2017. Evaluation of pinniped 
predation on adult salmonids and other fish in the Bonneville Dam 
tailrace, 2017. (http://pweb.crohms.org/tmt/documents/pinniped/2017/
2017-USACE-pinniped-monitoring-report.pdf) (accessed July 24, 2018).

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]

    California sea lions are managed by NOAA under the Marine 
Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA).\5\ The MMPA prohibits, 
with certain exceptions, the lethal taking of any marine mammal 
in United States waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas. 
Under current law, section 120 of the MMPA allows States to 
apply to the Secretary of Commerce for intentional lethal 
taking of specific ``individually identifiable'' predator seals 
and sea lions that are having a significant negative impact on 
ESA-listed salmon stocks.\6\ NOAA authorized the States of 
Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to permanently remove sea lions 
in 2008. This authority was reauthorized by NOAA in 2016. 
Trapping, followed by relocation and release, has been largely 
ineffective since the same individual sea lions often return 
within a period of days to weeks. For example, the Oregon 
Department of Fish and Wildlife spent 5 weeks in 2018 moving 10 
sea lions to a new location 210 miles away, only to see the 
same animals return to the area within 4 to 6 days. One animal 
was moved and returned twice.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\Adapted from the NOAA Status of ESA Listings and Critical 
Habitat Designations for West Coast Salmon and Steelhead (http://
www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/gis_maps/maps/
salmon_steelhead/critical_habitat/wcr_salmonid_ch_esa_july2016.pdf) 
(accessed July 19, 2018).
    \5\16 U.S.C. Sec. 1361 et seq.
    \6\16 U.S.C. Sec. 1389.
    \7\Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2018 ``Relocation of Sea 
Lions not enough to protect Willamette fish runs.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Although they were once exploited for their fur and 
negatively impacted by the chemical DDT, the population of 
California sea lions has tripled since the 1970s\8\ (Figure 2) 
and they are currently listed with a status of least concern by 
the International Union for Conservation of Nature.\9\ The 
California sea lion population has been determined to be at the 
optimal sustainable population.\10\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\NOAA Fisheries. California Sea Lion Population Rebounded to New 
Heights. (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/california-sea-
lion-population-rebounded-new-highs) (accessed July 19, 2018).
    \9\http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41666/0 (accessed July 19, 
2018).
    \10\Laake, Jeffrey L., Lowrey, Mark S., DeLong, Robert L., and 
Caretta, James V. 2018. Population Growth and Status of California Sea 
Lions. The Journal of Wildlife Management 82 (583-595) (https://
onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/jwmg.21405) (accessed July 19, 
2018).

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]

                         Summary of Provisions

    If enacted, S. 3119 would do the following:
     Allow the Secretary of Commerce to issue a permit 
            for the intentional lethal taking of individually 
            identifiable sea lions by the State of Washington, 
            Oregon, or Idaho, or to a tribal entity for the 
            purpose of protecting endangered anadromous\12\ 
            fish such as salmon or lamprey.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \11\Laake, Jeffrey L., Lowrey, Mark S., DeLong, Robert L., and 
Caretta, James V. 2018. Population Growth and Status of California Sea 
Lions. The Journal of Wildlife Management 82 (583-595).
    \12\Anadromous species are those which spawn in fresh or estuarine 
waters and migrate to ocean waters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Define all sea lions found above mile 112 of the 
            Colombia River as individually identifiable.

                          Legislative History

    S. 3119 was introduced on June 21, 2018, by Senator Risch 
(for himself and Senator Cantwell) and was referred to the 
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the 
Senate. On August 1, 2018, the Committee met in open Executive 
Session and by voice vote ordered S. 3119 to be reported 
favorably with an amendment (in the nature of a substitute).
    It has a companion bill in the House of Representatives, 
H.R. 1707, introduced by Representative Herrera Beutler (R-WA) 
and cosponsored by Representatives McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), 
Newhouse (R-WA), Young (R-AK), and Schrader (D-OR). 
H.R. 1707 was passed by the House of Representatives on June 
26, 2018. A similar bill with the same name (S. 1702) was 
introduced by Senator Risch on August 2, 2017, and referred to 
the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the 
Senate. S. 3119 is an updated version of this earlier bill.
    On April 25, 2018, the Committee held a hearing entitled 
``Enhancing the Marine Mammal Protection Act.'' At that 
hearing, Mr. Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for 
Fisheries at NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, and Mr. 
Guy Norman, of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, 
testified regarding concerns about the impact sea lions are 
having on ESA-listed salmon and steelhead throughout the west 
coast.\13\ The Washington, Oregon, and Idaho Departments of 
Fish and Game, the Colombia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, 
the American Sportfishing Association, the Oregon State 
Sheriff's Association, the Northwest Power and Conservation 
Council, and over 120 Pacific Northwest businesses and trade 
associations, including restaurants, fishing tackle shops, and 
fishermen, have submitted letters in support of S. 3119.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \13\Oliver, Chris. 2018 Testimony on the Marine Mammal Protection 
Act Before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard (https:/
/www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/1a25f948-cb58-4c10-b939-
22fe8f6cbb68/EFAED859B316EC707BF200116BCF66F3.4.25.18-oliver-
testimony.pdf) (accessed July 26, 2018).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            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:

S. 3119--Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act

    S. 3119 would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 
1972 to authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) to issue permits that would allow states 
and tribal entities in the Northwest United States to kill sea 
lions that threaten species of salmon and other fish listed as 
endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 
the Columbia River and its tributaries. NOAA would be required 
to ensure that the permitted entities kill no more than a 
combined total of 10 percent of the maximum number of sea lions 
that NOAA estimates could be killed (not including natural 
mortality) while still allowing each sea lion group to reach or 
maintain its optimum sustainable population. The bill also 
would direct NOAA to complete a report on the effectiveness of 
the permitting program in helping endangered salmon stocks 
recover.
    Under current law, NOAA has the authority to issue permits 
to kill certain marine mammals that threaten other species. 
Using information from the agency, CBO estimates that giving 
NOAA the authority to issue such permits would have no 
significant effect on the federal budget. Enacting S. 3119 
would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-
as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting that legislation would not 
increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of 
the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    S. 3119 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    On August 10, 2017, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for 
H.R. 2083, the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation 
Prevention Act, as ordered reported by the House Committee on 
Natural Resources on July 26, 2017. The two pieces of 
legislation are similar and CBO' s estimates of their costs are 
the same.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Robert Reese. 
The estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, 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

    This measure, as reported, would not create any new 
programs or impose any new significant regulatory requirements. 
Therefore, it would not subject any individuals or businesses 
to new significant regulations.

                            economic impact

    Enactment of this legislation is not expected to have any 
significant adverse impacts on the Nation's economy.

                                privacy

    S. 3119 would not have any adverse impact on the privacy of 
individuals.

                               paperwork

    S. 3119 would not impose a substantial paperwork burden on 
individuals or businesses.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 
rule.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title; table of contents.

    This section would provide that the bill may be cited as 
the ``Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act.''

Section 2. Sense of Congress.

    This section would state the following: that it is the 
sense of Congress that preventing predation by sea lions, 
recovery of listed salmonid stocks, and preventing future 
listings of fish stocks in the Columbia River is a vital 
priority; and that the Federal Government should continue to 
fund lethal and nonlethal removal and deterrence measures for 
preventing this predation.

Section 3. Taking of sea lions on the Columbia River and its 
        tributaries to protect endangered and threatened species of 
        salmon and other nonlisted fish species.

    This section would authorize the Secretary of Commerce to 
issue and revoke a permit to eligible entities to authorize the 
lethal taking of individually identifiable sea lions that are 
not categorized as depleted or strategic under the MMPA. These 
permits would be issued for the purpose of protecting 
endangered or threatened salmon. This section would define the 
permit process and limit permits to 5 years. It would limit the 
cumulative number of sea lions taken per year and require 
lethal takes to be done humanely by qualified individuals, and 
to comply with standards by an institutional animal care and 
use committee. It would allow the Secretary to suspend 
permitting if it is determined that it is no longer necessary. 
This section also would define entities eligible for the permit 
and allow an eligible entity to delegate its authority. It 
would deem as individually identifiable any sea lion upstream 
of mile 112 of the Colombia River or in any tributary to the 
Columbia River that includes spawning habitat of threatened or 
endangered salmon or steelhead.
    The Committee notes that the intent of this section and 
this bill for the Willamette River and Oregon tributaries is to 
ensure the opportunity of the Tribes authorized by this 
legislation to participate in the management of sea lions. The 
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the Confederated 
Tribes of Grand Ronde both claim interest in the removal area 
or portions thereof pursuant to treaties signed with the United 
States that ceded these areas to the Federal Government. The 
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the 
Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs claim the removal area or 
portions thereof as usual and accustomed fishing areas reserved 
in their treaties with the United States. In authorizing 
participation of these Tribes in sea lion management, the 
Committee does not intend to give credit, to discredit or 
prioritize any Tribe's claims within the removal area. It is 
intended that this legislation not be used for any interest 
other than to authorize these Tribes to participate in sea lion 
management.

Section 4. Treaty rights of federally recognized Indian Tribes.

    This section would specify that nothing in this Act should 
be construed to affect or modify any treaty or right of an 
Indian Tribe.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
material is printed in italic, existing law in which no change 
is proposed is shown in roman):

                  MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION ACT OF 1972


                        [16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.]

SEC. 120. PACIFIC COAST TASK FORCE; GULF OF MAINE.

                            [16 U.S.C. 1389]

  (a) Pinniped Removal Authority.--Notwithstanding any other 
provision of this title, the Secretary may permit the 
intentional lethal taking of pinnipeds in accordance with this 
section.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  [(f) California Sea Lions and Pacific Harbor Seals; 
Investigation and Report.--
          [(1) The Secretary shall engage in a scientific 
        investigation to determine whether California sea lions 
        and Pacific harbor seals--
                  [(A) are having a significant negative impact 
                on the recovery of salmonid fishery stocks 
                which have been listed as endangered species or 
                threatened species under the Endangered Species 
                Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), or which 
                the Secretary finds are approaching such 
                endangered species or threatened species 
                status; or
                  [(B) are having broader impacts on the 
                coastal ecosystems of Washington, Oregon, and 
                California.
          [(1) The Secretary shall conclude this investigation 
        and prepare a report on its results no later than 
        October 1, 1995.
          [(2) Upon completion of the scientific investigation 
        required under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall enter 
        into discussions with the Pacific States Marine 
        Fisheries Commission, on behalf of the States of 
        Washington, Oregon, and California, for the purpose of 
        addressing any issues or problems identified as a 
        result of the scientific investigation, and to develop 
        recommendations to address such issues or problems. Any 
        recommendations resulting from such discussions shall 
        be submitted, along with the report, to the Committee 
        on Merchant Marine and Fisheries of the House of 
        Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, 
        and Transportation of the Senate.
          [(3) The Secretary shall make the report and the 
        recommendations submitted under paragraph (2) available 
        to the public for review and comment for a period of 90 
        days.
          [(4) There are authorized to be appropriated to the 
        Secretary such sums as are necessary to carry out the 
        provisions of this subsection.
          [(5) The amounts appropriated under section 308(c) of 
        the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act of 1986 (16 
        U.S.C. 4107(c)) and allocated to the Pacific States 
        Marine Fisheries Commission may be used by the 
        Commission to participate in discussions with the 
        Secretary under paragraph (2).]
  (f) Temporary Marine Mammal Removal Authority on the Waters 
of the Columbia River or Its Tributaries.--
          (1) Removal authority.--Notwithstanding any other 
        provision of this Act, the Secretary may issue a permit 
        to an eligible entity to authorize the intentional 
        lethal taking on the waters of the Columbia River and 
        its tributaries of individually identifiable sea lions 
        that are part of a population or stock that is not 
        categorized under this Act as depleted or strategic for 
        the purpose of protecting--
                  (A) species of salmon, steelhead, or eulachon 
                that are listed as endangered species or 
                threatened species under the Endangered Species 
                Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); and
                  (B) species of lamprey or sturgeon that are 
                not so listed as endangered or threatened but 
                are listed as a species of concern.
          (2) Permit process.--
                  (A) In general.--An eligible entity may apply 
                to the Secretary for a permit under this 
                subsection.
                  (B) Timelines and procedures of 
                application.--The timelines and procedures 
                described in subsection (c) shall apply to 
                applications for permits under this subsection 
                in the same manner such timelines apply to 
                applications under subsection (b).
                  (C) Coordination.--The Secretary shall 
                establish procedures to coordinate issuance of 
                permits under this subsection, including 
                application procedures and timelines, 
                delegation and revocation of permits to and 
                between eligible entities, monitoring, periodic 
                review, and geographic, seasonal take, and 
                species-specific considerations.
                  (D) Duration of permit.--A permit under this 
                subsection shall be effective for a period of 
                not more than 5 years, and may be renewed by 
                the Secretary.
                  (E) Coordination with other tribes.--To the 
                extent practicable, and prior to issuing a 
                permit under this section, the Secretary shall 
                consult with all Indian tribes with legal or 
                historic interests in the protection of 
                salmonid species in the area of the Columbia 
                River and its tributaries described in 
                paragraph (8).
          (3) Limitations on annual takings.--The Secretary 
        shall apply the process for determining limitations on 
        annual take of sea lions under subsection (c) to 
        determinations on limitations under this subsection, 
        and the cumulative number of sea lions authorized to be 
        taken each year under all permits in effect under this 
        subsection shall not exceed 10 percent of the annual 
        potential biological removal level for sea lions.
          (4) Qualified individuals.--Intentional lethal 
        takings under this subsection shall--
                  (A) be humane within the meaning of such term 
                under section 3(4);
                  (B) require that capture, husbandry, 
                transportation, and euthanasia protocols are 
                based on standards propagated by an 
                Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and 
                that primary euthanasia be limited to humane 
                chemical methods; and
                  (C) be implemented by agencies or qualified 
                individuals described in subsection (c)(4), or 
                by individuals employed by the eligible 
                entities described in paragraph (6).
          (5) Suspension of permitting authority.--If, 5 years 
        after the date of the enactment of the Endangered 
        Salmon Predation Prevention Act, the Secretary, after 
        consulting with State and tribal fishery managers, 
        determines that lethal removal authority is no longer 
        necessary to protect salmonid and other fish species 
        from sea lion predation, the Secretary shall suspend 
        the issuance of permits under this subsection.
          (6) Eligible entity defined.--
                  (A) Definition.--In this subsection, the term 
                ``eligible entity'' means--
                          (i) with respect to removal in the 
                        mainstem of the Columbia River and its 
                        tributaries, the State of Washington, 
                        the State of Oregon, and the State of 
                        Idaho;
                          (ii) with respect to removal in the 
                        mainstem Columbia River and its 
                        tributaries, the Nez Perce Tribe, the 
                        Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla 
                        Indian Reservation, the Confederated 
                        Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation 
                        of Oregon, and the Confederated Tribes 
                        and Bands of the Yakama Nation; and
                          (iii) with respect to removal in the 
                        mainstem Columbia River and its 
                        tributaries, the Columbia River 
                        Intertribal Fish Commission.
                  (B) Delegation authority.--The Secretary may 
                allow an eligible entity described in clause 
                (i) to delegate its authority under a permit 
                under this subsection to any entity described 
                in subclause (ii) or (iii).
          (7) Individual exception.--For purposes of this 
        subsection, any sea lion located upstream of river mile 
        112, or in any tributary to the Columbia River that 
        includes spawning habitat of threatened or endangered 
        salmon or steelhead is deemed to be individually 
        identifiable.
          (8) Significant negative impact exception.--For 
        purposes of this subsection, any sea lion located in 
        the mainstem of the Columbia River upstream of river 
        mile 112, or in any tributary to the Columbia River 
        that includes spawning habitat of threatened or 
        endangered salmon or steelhead is deemed to be having a 
        significant negative impact, within the meaning of 
        subsection (b)(1).
          (9) Definition.--In this subsection, the term 
        ``Indian tribe'' has the meaning given such term in 
        section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and 
        Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5304).
  (g) Regionwide Pinniped-fishery Interaction Study.--
          (1) The Secretary may conduct a study, of not less 
        than three high predation areas in anadromous fish 
        migration corridors within the Northwest Region of the 
        National Marine Fisheries Service, on the interaction 
        between fish and pinnipeds. In conducting the study, 
        the Secretary shall consult with other State and 
        Federal agencies with expertise in pinniped-fishery 
        interaction. The study shall evaluate--
                  (A) fish behavior in the presence of 
                predators generally;
                  (B) holding times and passage rates of 
                anadromous fish stocks in areas where such fish 
                are vulnerable to predation;
                  (C) whether additional facilities exist, or 
                could be reasonably developed, that could 
                improve escapement for anadromous fish; and
                  (D) other issues the Secretary considers 
                relevant.
          (2) Subject to the availability of appropriations, 
        the Secretary may, not later than 18 months after the 
        commencement of the study under this subsection, 
        transmit a report on the results of the study to the 
        Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of 
        the Senate and the Committee on Merchant Marine and 
        Fisheries of the House of Representatives.
          (3) The study conducted under this subsection may not 
        be used by the Secretary as a reason for delaying or 
        deferring a determination or consideration under 
        subsection (c) or (d).
  (h) Gulf of Maine Task Force.--The Secretary shall establish 
a Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force to advise the 
Secretary on issues or problems regarding pinnipeds interacting 
in a dangerous or damaging manner with aquaculture resources in 
the Gulf of Maine. No later than 2 years from the date of 
enactment of this section, the Secretary shall after notice and 
opportunity for public comment submit to the Committee on 
Merchant Marine and Fisheries of the House of Representatives 
and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of 
the Senate a report containing recommended available 
alternatives to mitigate such interactions.
  (i) Requirements Applicable to Task Forces.--
          (1) Any task force established under this section--
                  (A) shall to the maximum extent practicable, 
                consist of an equitable balance among 
                representatives of resource user interests and 
                nonuser interests; and
                  (B) shall not be subject to the Federal 
                Advisory Committee Act (5 App. U.S.C.).
          (2) Meetings of any task force established under this 
        section shall be open to the public, and prior notice 
        of those meetings shall be given to the public by the 
        task force in a timely fashion.
  (j) Gulf of Maine Harbor Porpoise.--.
          (1) Nothing in section 117 shall prevent the 
        Secretary from publishing a stock assessment for Gulf 
        of Maine harbor porpoise in an expedited fashion.
          (2) In developing and implementing a take reduction 
        plan under section 118 for Gulf of Maine harbor 
        porpoise, the Secretary shall consider all actions 
        already taken to reduce incidental mortality and 
        serious injury of such stock, and may, based on the 
        recommendations of the take reduction team for such 
        stock, modify the time period required for compliance 
        with section 118(f)(5)(A), but in no case may such 
        modification extend the date of compliance beyond April 
        1, 1997.