Washington, D.C. – Alaskan Congressman Don Young has joined Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) in introducing H.R. 774, the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015, which would enhance the enforcement authority of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to regulate and combat IUU fishing.
“As a staunch supporter of our oceans and U.S. fishing industry, I’ve made serious efforts to deter and eliminate pirate vessels from stealing our resources and harming our economies. This important legislation, which imposes added sanctions on countries whose vessels engage in IUU fishing, would provide our authorities the tools they need to fight back against these global criminals and ensure millions of pounds of illegally caught product never reach market,” said Congressman Young, House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair and Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs.
H.R. 774 would strengthen existing enforcement measures by increasing the capacity for inspection, identification, and monitoring of illegal foreign vessels. The legislation would also amend several international agreements to incorporate civil and criminal penalties, and broaden data sharing authority with foreign governments in order to identify and penalize nations that do not comply with fisheries management regulations.
H.R. 774 is the product of extensive negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in the House during the 113th Congress. The legislation, which previously passed the House Natural Resources Committee by unanimous consent on September 18, 2014, has received the support of a broad coalition of stakeholders from the fishing industry and conservation groups.
Congressman Young and the bill’s original sponsor Congresswoman Bordallo were joined by Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rob Wittman (R-VA), and John Garamendi (D-CA) in introducing H.R. 774.
Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo (D-GU), original sponsor of H.R. 774:
“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing threatens the economic and social infrastructure of fishing communities and impacts national and regional security of the U.S. and our allies. IUU fishing poses a significant risk to local fishermen who engage in legitimate fishing practices, and to the long-term sustainability of our fishing stocks. Additionally, vessels engaged in IUU fishing have a high likelihood of engaging in other various trafficking activities. Countries like Australia, Palau and now even Papua New Guinea have led the way in combating IUU fishing, and the U.S. must take immediate and forceful action as well. This bill provides much-needed enforcement tools to the Coast Guard and NOAA to combat IUU fishing, and it implements a treaty ratified by the Senate last year to deny vessels port entry and services if they engage in IUU fishing. I appreciate the work of the Natural Resources Committee staff to negotiate a bipartisan consensus on this bill. I look forward to the bill’s consideration during the 114th Congress and will work with my colleagues to pass this bill so we can address the harmful effects of IUU fishing.”
Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
“This is a common-sense bill. Illegal fishing takes millions of dollars out of the pockets of hard-working American fishermen and damages our commercial fishing industry. Toughening the policing of worldwide illegal fishing vessels – which have well-documented links to organized crime, human trafficking and drug transportation – is a matter of great urgency.”
Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:
“The hardworking men and women of Oregon’s fishing industry abide by some of the strictest laws in the world in order to maintain sustainable, healthy fisheries. But if the rest of the world continues to look the other way when it comes to illegal catches, West Coast fisheries will be devastated. We need strong, enforceable action to make sure our fishermen can compete on a level playing field.”
Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation:
“Criminal international fishing outfits rob American fishermen of their paychecks, devastate marine ecosystems, and fuel a range of other illegal actions, including terrorism. H.R. 744 would further empower the Coast Guard — our Nation’s maritime law enforcement authority — to better coordinate with other Federal agencies to crack down on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; for instance, the bill would deny entry to U.S. ports to IUU fishing vessels, thus preventing these outlaws from profiting from their crimes. H.R. 744 is a bipartisan bill that supports American workers, environmental protection, and national security. I urge its swift consideration this spring.”