Legislation to end the multi-billion dollar practice of pirate fishing is headed for the Senate floor, while another measure dealing with genetically engineered salmon has been dropped for now, in hope of stronger support in the future.
The Pirate Fishing Elimination Act, which passed the Senate Commerce Committee on July 31, is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.
“Pirate fishing is a multi-billion dollar industry that mocks law for fisheries conservation and seafood safety, hurts legitimate fishermen in the marketplace, and at its worst, even holds its workers as slaves,” Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, a co-sponsor of the pirate fishing bill. “This legislation is a serious way to fight back.”
S. 1980 enacts measures included in a 2009 international agreement on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing to deny known pirate boats access to ports to offload their catch. It also makes it illegal to knowingly import, export or buy or sell fish caught in violation of marine laws and treaties, or to interfere with or bribe inspectors, and gives the Secretary of Commerce power to enforce those measures through arrests, citations and civil and criminal penalties.
Begich said legislation on genetically engineered salmon – the Frankenfish measure – was pulled when it appeared to be one vote shy of passage, but a third bill supporting the NOAA Corps also was headed for the Senate floor.
S. 1717, an act for the Prevention of Escapement of Genetically Altered Salmon in the United States, would have prohibited sale of such fish unless the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds that production of those fish would have no significant impact or were found to be consistent with the National Environmental Protection Act.
The federal Food and Drug Amendments Act of 2006 called for a report on any environmental risks associated with genetically engineered seafood production, including impact on wild stocks, but to date the FDA has not provided such a report. The Senate committee also passed S. 2388, the NOAA Corps Amendments Act of 2012, sponsored by Begich, to give the corps tools to streamline personnel practices, improve its diversity and retain senior female officers. The bill also creates new incentive programs, to be paid for by savings in other sections of the bill.