Appointments and Advisory Body Vacancies
Dr. Melissa Haltuch was appointed to one of the vacant at-large positions on the Scientific and Statistical Committee. The Council will solicit nominations for a remaining at-large vacancy soon with the intent of filling that position at the March 2020 meeting.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified two new designees to the Council, David Teuscher and Tom Sinclair, and plans to discuss their appointment to the Habitat Committee at the March 2020 meeting.
The Council will also solicit nominations for two vacancies on its advisory subpanels, the Washington Commercial position on the Coastal Pelagic Species Advisory Subpanel formerly held by Daniel Crome, and the Open Access North of Cape Mendocino position on the Groundfish Advisory Subpanel held by Jeffery Miles, who informed the Council of his intent to resign after the March 2020 Council meeting. A request for nominations will be posted on the Council’s advisory body vacancy page.
The Council discussed a draft NMFS report to Congress on the Modernization Recreational Fisheries Management Act in November and forwarded comments to NMFS that emphasize and clarify the Council’s role in using the best scientific information available.
In order to comment on legislation, the Council must receive a request from a member of Congress. There were no requests at the November meeting. There were also no new bills to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, although Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) has been conducting a listening tour on the West Coast in preparation for introducing a reauthorization bill in the spring. Representative Don Young (R-AK) has also reintroduced his MSA reauthorization bill (HR 3697), which is the same as HR 200 in the previous session of Congress.
The Legislative Committee is currently tracking a large number of bills, but very few are given a high chance of passage. A few that are considered most likely to pass are summarized below:
Coast Guard Authorization Act
Companion bills have been introduced by Peter DeFazio (D-OR, HR 3409) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK, S 2297). The House bill passed the House on July 24 and the Senate bill has been reported committee (a requirement if the bill is to move forward; most bills are never reported). This bill authorizes appropriations for the Coast Guard for FY 2020-2021 and includes a large number of provisions related to vessel safety, updating of Coast Guard facilities and technologies, and other issues. Learn more here. This bill is likely to pass.
Save Our Seas 2.0 Act
This bill (HR 2372), introduced by Robert Menendez (D-NJ), has been reported by committee. It aims to enhance global engagement to combat marine debris, particularly plastics. The bill has a fairly high likelihood of passage. Learn more here.
Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act
This Senate bill (S 877) was introduced by Cory Booker (D-NJ), and House bill (HR 737) was introduced by Gregorio Sablan (D-CNMI). It has been reported by committee and is given a fairly high chance of passage. The bill would ban the selling or buying of shark fins nationwide, with a fine of up to $100,000. The bill would permit sharks to be caught for subsistence purposes or scientific research. Dogfish are exempted.
Tri-State Enforcement Report
The Tri-State Enforcement Report was provided as a video at the November meeting: https://youtu.be/o5NMeTJum5U