House Gives IUU Legislation Another Try

The 114th Congress will take a second look at new bipartisan
legislation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the product
of extensive negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in the House during
the 113th Congress.
In a news release Feb. 10, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said he
has joined Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, in introducing H.R. 774, the
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015.
The legislation is a newer version of a bill sponsored by
Bordallo that was the subject of extensive negotiations between Republicans and
Democrats in the House during the 113th Congress, and progressed to unanimous
consent passage in the House Natural Resources Committee on Sept. 18, 2014.
Co-sponsors of the new legislation include Rep. Peter
DeFazio, D-OR; Rep. John Garamendi, D-CA; Rep. Ed Royce, R-CA; and Rep. Rob
Wittman, R-VA.
Introduction of H.R. 774 came just a day after the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its latest biennial report to
Congress on IUU fishing. Global losses attributable to IUU fishing have been
estimated to be between $10 billion and $23 billion annually, undermining the
ability to sustainably manage fisheries as well as economic opportunities for
US fishermen, the report said.
Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico were the three nations of 10 identified in NOAA’s 2013 biennial report for engaging in IUU practices were
identified again in the 2015 report for new IUU activity.
Bordallo said that countries like Australia, Palau and now
even Papua New Guinea have led the way in combating IUU fishing, and the US
must take immediate and forceful action as well. The bill provides much needed
enforcement tools to the Coast Guard and NOAA to combat IUU fishing, and it
implements a treaty ratified by the Senate last year to deny vessels port entry
and services if they engage in IUU fishing, she said.
“The hard working men and women of Oregon’s fishing industry
abide by some of the strictest laws in the world in order to maintain
sustainable, healthy fisheries,” DeFazio said. “But if the rest of the world
continues to look the other way when it comes to illegal catches, West Coast
fisheries will be devastated. We need strong, enforceable action to make sure
our fishermen can compete on a level playing field,” he said.

“Criminal international fishing outfits rob American
fishermen of their paychecks, devastate marine ecosystems, and fuel a range of
other illegal actions, including terrorism,” said Garamendi. H.R. 744, he said,
would further empower the Coast Guard to better coordinate with other federal
agencies to crack down on IUU fishing.