HR 3919

Oceanwatch at Oceanwatch at
Fri Mar 24 15:26:56 EST 2000

Dave Allison and Coral Listers:

FYI, the following is a brief summary of the markup held yesterday by the 
House Fisheries subcommittee on the Saxton coral reef.  Much of the 
discussion addressed the problem you note about potential interference in 
Interior's jurisdiction.  I'd be happy to answer any questions--there are 
several NGOs focusing on this legislation.

Cliff McCreedy
><((;>   ><((;>   ><((;>
2101 Wilson Boulevard 
Suite 900
Arlington, VA  22201
phone 703-351-7444
fax 703-351-7472
e-mail:  Oceanwatch at

TO: Coral Reef NGOs

I just returned from the Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee markup of the 
Saxton coral reef bill, HR3919.

The Interior Department has been doing damage control.  Dep Sec Stephen 
Saunders met with Rep Eni Faleomavega, the Democratic co-author, this morning 
on the Sec 4(c) fisheries jurisdiction problem.   Chairman Saxton, 
Faleomavaega and Rep Neil Abercrombie all mentioned this issue at the markup. 
 In his opening statement, Saxton said he would address the problem in 
technical amendments to the bill at full committee.  Faleomavaega was very 
conciliatory and said he never intended "to override other agencies' 
authorities" with the bill.  He also promised to reexamine the the language 
and develop "mutually acceptable changes"  prior to full committee 
consideration.  Abercrombie made a statement about how the current language 
delegates "exclusive authority" over coral reef fisheries and that is a 
problem for the Natl Wildlife Refuges.  He said that Magnuson gives 
jurisdiction OUTSIDE the 3 mile limit but said that NOAA would probably 
contend that the current Saxton language just restates existing law.  
Abercrombie also mentioned that he has spoken to the West Pac Fisheries Mgmt 
Council and gotten them to understand that official membership in the Coral 
Reef Task Force for West Pac is inappropriate.

FYI, the subcommittee voted unanimously to refer the bill without amendment 
to the full House Resources committee.  (With verbal promises to address the 
fisheries jurisdiction problem with Interior prior to full committee 
consideration).  Other members who spoke in support of the bill:  Wayne 
Gilchrest (R-MD) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR).  No one opposed.  The last I 
heard, full committee markup is not yet scheduled, probably sometime in May.

<<Folks interested in coral reef fish populations should note a piece of
legislation currently in Congress. HR 3919, the Coral Reef Conservation
and Restoration Partnership Act of 2000 was scheduled to be marked up in
the House Resources Committee, Ocean and Fisheries Subcommittee, this
morning at 10 am.  The bill, at page 12, (Section 4(c)) entitled "Coral
Reef Fisheries Management" provides that:  (1)"Notwithstanding any other
provision of law...the Secretary (of Commerce) has exclusive authority in
the Federal Government for managing the fishery resources (as that term is
defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act ..
of coral reef ecosystems."  It further provides that: (3)"Nothing in this
Act shall affect the authority of the Regional fishery Management Councils
established under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management

While this may appear to have been inserted just to clarify existing
fishery management authority, Section 4(c) may cede all authority for
management of all living resources, including live coral, to the Regional
Fishery Management Councils rather than to the agencies, such as the
National Park Service or the Fish and Wildlife Service which both
currently have the authority to prohibit all fishing or to limit fishing
to the use of specific non-destructive gear in the marine waters of the
parks and refuges.  If that is the intent of the members of the
organizations working to ensure effective oversight of the US Coral Reef
Task Force, Fish Forever would suggest that our experiences with
Secretarial authority and NMFS and Council management under the Secretary
of Commerce would not warrant a very high degree of confidence in the
conservation emphasis of Commerce Department management.  Generally, in
Commerce, fishing is allowed unless it is specifically prohibited.  
Generally, in Interior department conservation units, fishing is
prohibited unless specifically allowed. We strongly believe that the fish
and fisheries in the National Parks and Wildlife Refuges should be managed
by the Department of Interior agencies currently authorized to conduct
such management.

HR 3919 (Section 4(c)(2) allows, but does not mandate, delegation of
Secretarial authority over fisheries of coral reef ecosystems to other
Federal officials.  It would seem to be better to mandate such delegation
of such authority in any case in which a coral reef ecosystem or portion
thereof is located within the permanently or intermittently water covered
areas within boundaries of any National Park, Refuge or other conservation
unit or within any State, local or regional conservation unit adjacent to
or a part of such a national conservation unit.

I apologize for sending this out so late but I only became aware of the
legislation the night before last and was only in a position to notify one
coral reef conservation organization representative prior to the mark-up
this morning.  I believe that, if the mark up did take place this morning
and the language was not modified, we may have an opportunity to educate
some of our friends and the public of the importance of this matter prior
to the final passage of the bill from the House Resources Committee and to
the floor of the House for a vote.

Please excuse the length of this note.

David L. Allison, President
Fish Forever>>

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