Indigenous representation, fees to CNMI treasury highlight fishing bill

Apr 17, 2015

Wednesday, I introduced legislation fine-tuning fisheries policies nationwide. The Fishing Economy Improvement Act, H.R. 1826, also gives indigenous people a greater role in fisheries management at both the national and international level and sends certain fishing fees directly to the Commonwealth treasury without any strings attached. I drafted the bill after listening to hours of testimony during the last Congress on reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, our long-standing national policy. Magnuson is making America’s fishing industry and the fish stocks the industry depends on more sustainable, but could be improved—and there are areas of bipartisan agreement on how to do that. My bill focuses on those areas of agreement, such as replacing human observers on some commercial fishing boats with electronic monitoring and giving the public access to the inner workings of WestPac and other regional councils managing fishing. H.R. 1826 requires that traditional Pacific island fishing interests have a seat on WestPac and on the international Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. And certain fishing fees would go to the Northern Marianas, Guam, and American Samoa—rather than WestPac—for the local governments to use as they decide.