Illegal fishing bill forwarded to Pres. Obama’s desk

WASHINGTON, D.C. —A federal bill proposing to combat illegal fishing heads to Pres. Barack Obama’s desk for signature after the legislative act passed both houses of Congress last week.

The Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act would give weight to an international treaty by allowing the country’s ports to deny entry to vessels carrying illegally caught fish. Two federal agencies, Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), would be empowered to enforce illegal fishing regulations if Obama signs House Resolution 774 into law.

Madeleine Bordallo, the Democratic representative from Guam, introduced H.R. 774 earlier this year. Representatives approved H.R. 774 in July; senators supported the bill on Oct. 22.

A statement issued by Bordallo’s office stated H.R. 774 would allow Coast Guard and NOAA officials to perform more inspections to identify and monitor vessels potentially carrying illegally caught fish. The bill would also broaden data sharing capabilities amongst foreign governments and amend relevant international agreements to include civil and criminal penalties for those convicted of illegal fishing. Nations not complying with fisheries management regulations could also be penalized.

“This bill enhances the authorities NOAA and the Coast Guard have for combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and it sends a clear message that the United States will not tolerate these actions within our waters,” Bordallo said in a released statement. “Passage of the bill allows the U.S. to re-join the growing league of Asian and Pacific nations who have taken aggressive steps to combat this threat to their national security and economy.  The bill helps to ensure that the United States remains a leader in sustainable fisheries practices.  Additionally the bill will help to provide authorities with tools to go after human trafficking that is often associated with [illegal, unreported and unregulated] fishing.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) co-sponsored H.R. 774.

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