202. Registration and information management.
[MSFCMA section 401]
Summary: This section mandates development of recommendations
for a standardized fishing vessel registration and information
system (but not establishment of the system itself). The concept
is to integrate all vessel registration and data collection
systems implemented by the Secretary (MSFCMA, MMPA, etc.) with
State systems, to avoid duplication and minimize paperwork
burdens. The recommendations are to include funding for non-Federal entities, establish
standardized measurements and
formats, encompass commercial and charter (but not recreational)
fishing vessels, and consider confidentiality requirements.
Registration under this section is not to be considered a permit;
it cannot be sanctioned or conditioned. NMFS must consult with
various governmental entities and NGOs in developing the
By October 11, 1997, NMFS is to publish a proposal for a 60-day
comment period. The proposal must include any regulations or
legislation necessary to implementation.
Sixty days after the end of the comment period, the Secretary
must submit to Congress a proposal for implementation of a vessel
By January 11, 1998, the Secretary is to report to Congress on
the need to include recreational fishing vessels in the system.
Legislative history: This provision responds to testimony at
hearings about increasing paperwork requirements. With the
restrictions on conditioning or sanctioning registration, it
appears to be a throw-back to an earlier philosophy that
information submitted voluntarily is necessarily more accurate.
The Senate report says "it is essential to promote voluntary
participation in the system and to encourage fishermen to provide
accurate and timely information without fear of financial
penalties or restrictions on operations."
Issues: Note that this provision does not require implementation
of a registration system. Congress seems to have contemplated
that additional legislation would be required before the system
could be put in place.
The restrictions on registration conditions and sanctions are
problematic. If Congress meant to prohibit NMFS from issuing
permits that can be sanctioned for failure to report data and
other violations, it did not say so. Presumably fisheries
managers and enforcers will not want to abandon that essential
tool. Thus the registration system could end up duplicating
existing permit systems, which would seem to defeat the intent to
reduce paperwork burdens. This issue must be addressed in the
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