203. Information collection.
[MSFCMA section 402]
Summary: This section combines and embellishes existing sections
303(e), 303(d), and 303(f). Marine Fisheries Commission employees may now receive
confidential information on the same terms as State employees. Such information may also be
disclosed to verify catch histories for IFQ programs or when the submitter authorizes the release.
Section 402(b)(1)(E) allows observer information in the North Pacific to be released, but it was
not considered confidential information in the first place. NMFS is directed to issue regulations
ensuring confidentiality, if we want to require submission of income tax returns to verify that
an applicant is qualified for a permit.
The section adds authorization for sole-source grants for information collection "or other
programs" to States, Councils, and Marine Fisheries Commissions. Another addition is
authorization of the use of private fishing vessels to conduct resource surveys. A contractor
under this provision could be compensated by selling the fish harvested during the survey, or
by being allowed to catch and sell fish harvested subsequently. NMFS may allow fish harvested
during a contract survey to count toward a vessel's catch history, under certain circumstances.
The Secretary is urged to expand annual resource surveys in all regions.
Legislative history: The statement in the Senate report that
information collected in voluntary programs cannot be used in
enforcement proceedings is incorrect; there is no change in the
The provision on catch history stems from one fisherman's
assertion that he would have had a better catch history if he had
not been conducting a resource survey. Note that the provision
is completely discretionary and is not retroactive.
Congressman Young said that these data collection provisions are
not to be interpreted as requiring Paperwork Reduction Act review
"or agency approval under that Act." Since the legislation does
not express that sentiment, however, we cannot impute a PRA
Issues: The Department of Commerce's Office of General Counsel
has recommended that NMFS establish a procedure for notifying all
interested fishermen of research opportunities, and for selecting
participants in a fair and equitable manner. See also the
discussion under 108(c) on paying for surveys with fish.
NMFS is requesting an opinion from the Department of Commerce's
Office of General Counsel on the eligibility of Councils to
receive Saltonstall-Kennedy grants under section 402(d)(2).
Earlier OGC opinions ruled Councils ineligible, based on an
augmentation of appropriations without specific statutory
authority. NMFS also asks for an interpretation of the phrase
"or other programs."
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