As amended through October 11, 1996
To provide for the conservation and management of the fisheries,
and for other purposes.
J.Feder version (12/19/96)
TITLE IV -- FISHERY MONITORING AND RESEARCH
SEC. 401. REGISTRATION AND 16 U.S.C. 1881
(a) STANDARDIZED FISHING VESSEL REGISTRATION AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM.--The Secretary shall, in cooperation with the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, the States, the Councils, and Marine Fisheries Commissions, develop recommendations for implementation of a standardized fishing vessel registration and information management system on a regional basis. The recommendations shall be developed after consultation with interested governmental and nongovernmental parties and shall--
(1) be designed to standardize the requirements of vessel registration and information collection systems required by this Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), and any other marine resource law implemented by the Secretary, and, with the permission of a State, any marine resource law implemented by such State;
(2) integrate information collection programs under existing fishery management plans into a non-duplicative information collection and management system;
(3) avoid duplication of existing State, tribal, or Federal systems and shall utilize, to the maximum extent practicable, information collected from existing systems;
(4) provide for implementation of the system through cooperative agreements with appropriate State, regional, or tribal entities and Marine Fisheries Commissions;
(5) provide for funding (subject to appropriations) to assist appropriate State, regional, or tribal entities and Marine Fisheries Commissions in implementation;
(6) establish standardized units of measurement, nomenclature, and formats for the collection and submission of information;
(7) minimize the paperwork required for vessels registered under the system;
(8) include all species of fish within the geographic areas of authority of the Councils and all fishing vessels including charter fishing vessels, but excluding recreational fishing vessels;
(9) require United States fish processors, and fish dealers and other first ex-vessel purchasers of fish that are subject to the proposed system, to submit information (other than economic information) which may be necessary to meet the goals of the proposed system; and
(10) include procedures necessary to ensure--
(A) the confidentiality of information collected under this section in accordance with section 402(b); and
(B) the timely release or availability to the public of information collected under this section consistent with section 402(b).
(b) FISHING VESSEL REGISTRATION.--The proposed registration system should, at a minimum, obtain the following information for each fishing vessel--
(1) the name and official number or other identification, together with the name and address of the owner or operator or both;
(2) gross tonnage, vessel capacity, type and quantity of fishing gear, mode of operation (catcher, catcher processor, or other), and such other pertinent information with respect to vessel characteristics as the Secretary may require; and
(3) identification (by species, gear type, geographic area of operations, and season) of the fisheries in which the fishing vessel participates.
(c) FISHERY INFORMATION.--The proposed information management system should, at a minimum, provide basic fisheries performance information for each fishery, including--
(1) the number of vessels participating in the fishery including charter fishing vessels;
(2) the time period in which the fishery occurs;
(3) the approximate geographic location or official reporting area where the fishery occurs;
(4) a description of fishing gear used in the fishery, including the amount and type of such gear and the appropriate unit of fishing effort; and
(5) other information required under subsection 303(a)(5) or requested by the Council under section 402.
(d) USE OF REGISTRATION.--Any registration recommended under this section shall not be considered a permit for the purposes of this Act, and the Secretary may not propose to revoke, suspend, deny, or impose any other conditions or restrictions on any such registration or the use of such registration under this Act.
(e) PUBLIC COMMENT.--Within one year after the date of enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period a proposal that would provide for implementation of a standardized fishing vessel registration and information collection system that meets the requirements of subsections (a) through (c). The proposal shall include--
(1) a description of the arrangements of the Secretary for consultation and cooperation with the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, the States, the Councils, Marine Fisheries Commissions, the fishing industry and other interested parties; and
(2) any proposed regulations or legislation necessary to implement the proposal.
(f) CONGRESSIONAL TRANSMITTAL.--Within 60 days after the end of the comment period and after consideration of comments received under subsection (e), the Secretary shall transmit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives a recommended proposal for implementation of a national fishing vessel registration system that includes--
(1) any modifications made after comment and consultation;
(2) a proposed implementation schedule, including a schedule for the proposed cooperative agreements required under subsection (a)(4); and
(3) recommendations for any such additional legislation as the Secretary considers necessary or desirable to implement the proposed system.
(g) REPORT TO CONGRESS.--Within 15 months after the date of enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, the Secretary shall report to Congress on the need to include recreational fishing vessels into a national fishing vessel registration and information collection system. In preparing its report, the Secretary shall cooperate with the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, the States, the Councils, and Marine Fisheries Commissions, and consult with governmental and nongovernmental parties
SEC. 402. INFORMATION COLLECTION7 16 U.S.C. 1881a
(a) COUNCIL REQUESTS.--If a Council determines that additional information (other than information that would disclose proprietary or confidential commercial or financial information regarding fishing operations or fish processing operations) would be beneficial for developing, implementing, or revising a fishery management plan or for determining whether a fishery is in need of management, the Council may request that the Secretary implement an information collection program for the fishery which would provide the types of information (other than information that would disclose proprietary or confidential commercial or financial information regarding fishing operations or fish processing operations) specified by the Council. The Secretary shall undertake such an information collection program if he determines that the need is justified, and shall promulgate regulations to implement the program within 60 days after such determination is made. If the Secretary determines that the need for an information collection program is not justified, the Secretary shall inform the Council of the reasons for such determination in writing. The determinations of the Secretary under this subsection regarding a Council request shall be made within a reasonable period of time after receipt of that request.
(b) CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION.--
(1) Any information submitted to the Secretary by any person in compliance with any requirement under this Act shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed, except--
(A) to Federal employees and Council employees who are responsible for fishery management plan development and monitoring;
(B) to State or Marine Fisheries Commission employees pursuant to an agreement with the Secretary that prevents public disclosure of the identity or business of any person;
(C) when required by court order;
(D) when such information is used to verify catch under an individual fishing quota program;
(E) that observer information collected in fisheries under the authority of the North Pacific Council may be released to the public as specified in a fishery management plan or regulation for weekly summary bycatch information identified by vessel, and for haul-specific bycatch information without vessel identification; or
(F) when the Secretary has obtained written authorization from the person submitting such information to release such information to persons for reasons not otherwise provided for in this subsection, and such release does not violate other requirements of this Act.
(2) The Secretary shall, by regulation, prescribe such procedures as may be necessary to preserve the confidentiality of information submitted in compliance with any requirement or regulation under this Act, except that the Secretary may release or make public any such information in any aggregate or summary form which does not directly or indirectly disclose the identity or business of any person who submits such information. Nothing in this subsection shall be interpreted or construed to prevent the use for conservation and management purposes by the Secretary, or with the approval of the Secretary, the Council, of any information submitted in compliance with any requirement or regulation under this Act or the use, release, or publication of bycatch information pursuant to paragraph (1)(E).
(c) RESTRICTION ON USE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION.--
(1) The Secretary shall promulgate regulations to restrict the use, in civil enforcement or criminal proceedings under this Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), and the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), of information collected by voluntary fishery data collectors, including sea samplers, while aboard any vessel for conservation and management purposes if the presence of such a fishery data collector aboard is not required by any of such Acts or regulations thereunder.
(2) The Secretary may not require the submission of a Federal or State income tax return or statement as a prerequisite for issuance of a permit until such time as the Secretary has promulgated regulations to ensure the confidentiality of information contained in such return or statement, to limit the information submitted to that necessary to achieve a demonstrated conservation and management purpose, and to provide appropriate penalties for violation of such regulations.
(d) CONTRACTING AUTHORITY.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary may provide a grant, contract, or other financial assistance on a sole-source basis to a State, Council, or Marine Fisheries Commission for the purpose of carrying out information collection or other programs if--
(1) the recipient of such a grant, contract, or other financial assistance is specified by statute to be, or has customarily been, such State, Council, or Marine Fisheries Commission; or
(2) the Secretary has entered into a cooperative agreement with such State, Council, or Marine Fisheries Commission.
(e) RESOURCE ASSESSMENTS.--
(1) The Secretary may use the private sector to provide vessels, equipment, and services necessary to survey the fishery resources of the United States when the arrangement will yield statistically reliable results.
(2) The Secretary, in consultation with the appropriate Council and the fishing industry--
(A) may structure competitive solicitations under paragraph (1) so as to compensate a contractor for a fishery resources survey by allowing the contractor to retain for sale fish harvested during the survey voyage;
(B) in the case of a survey during which the quantity or quality of fish harvested is not expected to be adequately compensatory, may structure those solicitations so as to provide that compensation by permitting the contractor to harvest on a subsequent voyage and retain for sale a portion of the allowable catch of the surveyed fishery; and
(C) may permit fish harvested during such survey to count toward a vessel's catch history under a fishery management plan if such survey was conducted in a manner that precluded a vessel's participation in a fishery that counted under the plan for purposes of determining catch history.
(3) The Secretary shall undertake efforts to expand annual fishery resource assessments in all regions of the Nation.
SEC. 403. OBSERVERS7 16 U.S.C. 1881b
(a) GUIDELINES FOR CARRYING OBSERVERS.--Within one year after the date of enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations, after notice and opportunity for public comment, for fishing vessels that carry observers. The regulations shall include guidelines for determining--
(1) when a vessel is not required to carry an observer on board because the facilities of such vessel for the quartering of an observer, or for carrying out observer functions, are so inadequate or unsafe that the health or safety of the observer or the safe operation of the vessel would be jeopardized; and
(2) actions which vessel owners or operators may reasonably be required to take to render such facilities adequate and safe.
(b) TRAINING.--The Secretary, in cooperation with the appropriate States and the National Sea Grant College Program, shall--
(1) establish programs to ensure that each observer receives adequate training in collecting and analyzing the information necessary for the conservation and management purposes of the fishery to which such observer is assigned;
(2) require that an observer demonstrate competence in fisheries science and statistical analysis at a level sufficient to enable such person to fulfill the responsibilities of the position;
(3) ensure that an observer has received adequate training in basic vessel safety; and
(4) make use of university and any appropriate private nonprofit organization training facilities and resources, where possible, in carrying out this subsection.
(c) OBSERVER STATUS.--An observer on a vessel and under contract to carry out responsibilities under this Act or the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) shall be deemed to be a Federal employee for the purpose of compensation under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (5 U.S.C. 8101 et seq.).
SEC. 404 FISHERIES RESEARCH7 16 U.S.C. 1881c
(a) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary shall initiate and maintain, in cooperation with the Councils, a comprehensive program of fishery research to carry out and further the purposes, policy, and provisions of this Act. Such program shall be designed to acquire knowledge and information, including statistics, on fishery conservation and management and on the economics and social characteristics of the fisheries.
(b) STRATEGIC PLAN.--Within one year after the date of enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, and at least every 3 years thereafter, the Secretary shall develop and publish in the Federal Register a strategic plan for fisheries research for the 5 years immediately following such publication. The plan shall--
(1) identify and describe a comprehensive program with a limited number of priority objectives for research in each of the areas specified in subsection (c);
(2) indicate goals and timetables for the program described in paragraph (1);
(3) provide a role for commercial fishermen in such research, including involvement in field testing;
(4) provide for collection and dissemination, in a timely manner, of complete and accurate information concerning fishing activities, catch, effort, stock assessments, and other research conducted under this section; and
(5) be developed in cooperation with the Councils and affected States, and provide for coordination with the Councils, affected States, and other research entities.
(c) AREAS OF RESEARCH.--Areas of research are as follows:
(1) Research to support fishery conservation and management, including but not limited to, biological research concerning the abundance and life history parameters of stocks of fish, the interdependence of fisheries or stocks of fish, the identification of essential fish habitat, the impact of pollution on fish populations, the impact of wetland and estuarine degradation, and other factors affecting the abundance and availability of fish.
(2) Conservation engineering research, including the study of fish behavior and the development and testing of new gear technology and fishing techniques to minimize bycatch and any adverse effects on essential fish habitat and promote efficient harvest of target species.
(3) Research on the fisheries, including the social, cultural, and economic relationships among fishing vessel owners, crew, United States fish processors, associated shoreside labor, seafood markets and fishing communities.
(4) Information management research, including the development of a fishery information base and an information management system under section 401 that will permit the full use of information in the support of effective fishery conservation and management.
(d) PUBLIC NOTICE.--In developing the plan required under subsection (a), the Secretary shall consult with relevant Federal, State, and international agencies, scientific and technical experts, and other interested persons, public and private, and shall publish a proposed plan in the Federal Register for the purpose of receiving public comment on the plan. The Secretary shall ensure that affected commercial fishermen are actively involved in the development of the portion of the plan pertaining to conservation engineering research. Upon final publication in the Federal Register, the plan shall be submitted by the Secretary to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives.
SEC. 405. INCIDENTAL HARVEST RESEARCH7 16 U.S.C. 1881d
(a) COLLECTION OF INFORMATION.--Within nine months after the date of enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, the Secretary shall, after consultation with the Gulf Council and South Atlantic Council, conclude the collection of information in the program to assess the impact on fishery resources of incidental harvest by the shrimp trawl fishery within the authority of such Councils. Within the same time period, the Secretary shall make available to the public aggregated summaries of information collected prior to June 30, 1994 under such program.
(b) IDENTIFICATION OF STOCK.--The program concluded pursuant to subsection (a) shall provide for the identification of stocks of fish which are subject to significant incidental harvest in the course of normal shrimp trawl fishing activity.
(c) COLLECTION AND ASSESSMENT OF SPECIFIC STOCK INFORMATION.--For stocks of fish identified pursuant to subsection (b), with priority given to stocks which (based upon the best available scientific information) are considered to be overfished, the Secretary shall conduct--
(1) a program to collect and evaluate information on the nature and extent (including the spatial and temporal distribution) of incidental mortality of such stocks as a direct result of shrimp trawl fishing activities;
(2) an assessment of the status and condition of such stocks, including collection of information which would allow the estimation of life history parameters with sufficient accuracy and precision to support sound scientific evaluation of the effects of various management alternatives on the status of such stocks; and
(3) a program of information collection and evaluation for such stocks on the magnitude and distribution of fishing mortality and fishing effort by sources of fishing mortality other than shrimp trawl fishing activity.
(d) BYCATCH REDUCTION PROGRAM.--Not later than 12 months after the enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, the Secretary shall, in cooperation with affected interests, and based upon the best scientific information available, complete a program to--
(1) develop technological devices and other changes in fishing operations necessary and appropriate to minimize the incidental mortality of bycatch in the course of shrimp trawl activity to the extent practicable, taking into account the level of bycatch mortality in the fishery on November 28, 1990;
(2) evaluate the ecological impacts and the benefits and costs of such devices and changes in fishing operations; and
(3) assess whether it is practicable to utilize bycatch which is not avoidable.
(e) REPORT TO CONGRESS.--The Secretary shall, within one year of completing the programs required by this section, submit a detailed report on the results of such programs to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives.
(f) IMPLEMENTATION CRITERIA.--To the extent practicable, any conservation and management measure implemented under this Act to reduce the incidental mortality of bycatch in the course of shrimp trawl fishing shall be consistent with--
(1) measures applicable to fishing throughout the range in United States waters of the bycatch species concerned; and
(2) the need to avoid any serious adverse environmental impacts on such bycatch species or the ecology of the affected area.
SEC. 406 FISHERIES SYSTEMS RESEARCH 16 U.S.C. 1882
(a) ESTABLISHMENT OF PANEL.--Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, the Secretary shall establish an advisory panel under this Act to develop recommendations to expand the application of ecosystem principles in fishery conservation and management activities.
(b) PANEL MEMBERSHIP.--The advisory panel shall consist of not more than 20 individuals and include--
(1) individuals with expertise in the structures, functions, and physical and biological characteristics of ecosystems; and
(2) representatives from the Councils, States, fishing industry, conservation organizations, or others with expertise in the management of marine resources.
(c) RECOMMENDATIONS.--Prior to selecting advisory panel members, the Secretary shall, with respect to panel members described in subsection (b)(1), solicit recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences.
(d) REPORT.--Within 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Congress a completed report of the panel established under this section, which shall include--
(1) an analysis of the extent to which ecosystem principles are being applied in fishery conservation and management activities, including research activities;
(2) proposed actions by the Secretary and by the Congress that should be undertaken to expand the application of ecosystem principles in fishery conservation and management; and
(3) such other information as may be appropriate.
(e) PROCEDURAL MATTER.--The advisory panel established under this section shall be deemed an advisory panel under section 302(g).
SEC. 407 GULF OF MEXICO RED SNAPPER RESEARCH 16 U.S.C. 1883
(a) INDEPENDENT PEER REVIEW.--
(1) Within 30 days of the date of enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act, the Secretary shall initiate an independent peer review to evaluate--
(A) the accuracy and adequacy of fishery statistics used by the Secretary for the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico to account for all commercial, recreational, and charter fishing harvests and fishing effort on the stock;
(B) the appropriateness of the scientific methods, information, and models used by the Secretary to assess the status and trends of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock and as the basis for the fishery management plan for the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery;
(C) the appropriateness and adequacy of the management measures in the fishery management plan for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico for conserving and managing the red snapper fishery under this Act; and
(D) the costs and benefits of all reasonable alternatives to an individual fishing quota program for the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
(2) The Secretary shall ensure that commercial, recreational, and charter fishermen in the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico are provided an opportunity to--
(A) participate in the peer review under this subsection; and
(B) provide information to the Secretary concerning the review of fishery statistics under this subsection without being subject to penalty under this Act or other applicable law for any past violation of a requirement to report such information to the Secretary.
(3) The Secretary shall submit a detailed written report on the findings of the peer review conducted under this subsection to the Gulf Council no later than one year after the date of enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act.
(b) PROHIBITION.--In addition to the restrictions under section 303(d)(1)(A), the Gulf Council may not, prior to October 1, 2000, undertake or continue the preparation of any fishery management plan, plan amendment or regulation under this Act for the Gulf of Mexico commercial red snapper fishery that creates an individual fishing quota program or that authorizes the consolidation of licenses, permits, or endorsements that result in different trip limits for vessels in the same class.
(1) On or after October 1, 2000, the Gulf Council may prepare and submit a fishery management plan, plan amendment, or regulation for the Gulf of Mexico commercial red snapper fishery that creates an individual fishing quota program or that authorizes the consolidation of licenses, permits, or endorsements that result in different trip limits for vessels in the same class, only if the preparation of such plan, amendment, or regulation is approved in a referendum conducted under paragraph (2) and only if the submission to the Secretary of such plan, amendment, or regulation is approved in a subsequent referendum conducted under paragraph (2).
(2) The Secretary, at the request of the Gulf Council, shall conduct referendums under this subsection. Only a person who held an annual vessel permit with a red snapper endorsement for such permit on September 1, 1996 (or any person to whom such permit with such endorsement was transferred after such date) and vessel captains who harvested red snapper in a commercial fishery using such endorsement in each red snapper fishing season occurring between January 1, 1993, and such date may vote in a referendum under this subsection. The referendum shall be decided by a majority of the votes cast. The Secretary shall develop a formula to weigh votes based on the proportional harvest under each such permit and endorsement and by each such captain in the fishery between January 1, 1993, and September 1, 1996. Prior to each referendum, the Secretary, in consultation with the Council, shall--
(A) identify and notify all such persons holding permits with red snapper endorsements and all such vessel captains; and
(B) make available to all such persons and vessel captains information about the schedule, procedures, and eligibility requirements for the referendum and the proposed individual fishing quota program.
(d) CATCH LIMITS.--Any fishery management plan, plan amendment, or regulation submitted by the Gulf Council for the red snapper fishery after the date of enactment of the Sustainable Fisheries Act shall contain conservation and management measures that--
(1) establish separate quotas for recreational fishing (which, for the purposes of this subsection shall include charter fishing) and commercial fishing that, when reached, result in a prohibition on the retention of fish caught during recreational fishing and commercial fishing, respectively, for the remainder of the fishing year; and
(2) ensure that such quotas reflect allocations among such sectors and do not reflect any harvests in excess of such allocations.
Numbers in boldface indicate the number of the Public Law that amended the following provision. Boldface comments marked with asterisks were inserted by the editors.
*Bracketed material with an asterisk is text that is added, or replaces underlined language, and will be effective on the date the Agreement between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Maritime Boundary enters into force for the United States. See P.L. 102-251