Shark fin, climate, fisheries... Planning environmental Agenda 116

Nov 10, 2018

Environmental issues will get serious attention when the new Democratic majority House of Representatives convenes in January. I am already working with the likely Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans, Rep. Jared Huffman of California, on our agenda for the next two years.

At the top of the list, legislation that bans the sale of shark fins nationwide. I introduced the bill, modeled after Commonwealth law, in the 114th Congress and then handed it over to Republican Ed Royce as H.R. 1456 in the 115th Congress to give it a better chance of success in a Republican-majority House. But even though we now have 259 cosponsors, more than enough votes for passage, the Republican leadership in the House refuses to move the bill. I think that will change, once the new Democratic House gets started.

Rep. Huffman said the people of the Marianas “should be proud that they had the foresight and the political will to protect shark population in the waters of the Marianas.”

Huffman, a former member of the California Assembly, co-authored legislation there that banned the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins in California. He is also an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1456. The bill bans the commercial sale of shark fins, but protects noncommercial subsistence use

A broader environmental agenda

Rep. Huffman and I are also both interested in keeping the Magnuson Act strong, protecting fish stocks from overuse.

And we share a concern about climate change. Jared represents areas of California that were hard hit by wildfires over the last years. The Marianas, of course, are just beginning to recover from typhoons Mangkhut and Yutu. The accelerated intensification of Yutu and of Hurricane Michael that hit Florida last month happens because the ocean is warmer and storms rapidly pick up energy as they pass over those waters.

Huffman pledged to work together with me to “address the significant impacts of climate change on ocean ecosystems and coastal and island communities.”