Yesterday, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed three bills positively impacting the recreational boating and fishing industries, including the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2017; Billfish Conservation Act; and Small Shipyards and Maritime Communities Act.
The Coast Guard bill (S. 1129) would reauthorize the military branch’s programs for FY18 and possibly, FY19 too. The bill includes a number of boating safety provisions that NMMA and industry support.
Of note, there were disagreements on provisions relating to Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) but committee members seemed confident on their ability to work out a compromise before the bill heads to the Senate floor. Recreational boating is exempt from VIDA language due to the Clean Boating Act, however, NMMA will continue to monitor VIDA as an important tool to regulate the spread of waterway discharge and aquatic invasive species.
NMMA expects the House to consider similar legislation next week and will push to ensure recreational boating safety priorities are a top priority. You can view the complete S. 1129 bill here.
The Billfish Conservation Act (S. 396), introduced by U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) would allow the legislation to be implemented as intended when first signed into law in 2012.
The Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 banned the importation of all billfish caught by foreign fleets into the continental United States and, perhaps most importantly, set an example for other countries to pursue similar conservation efforts once thought impossible. However, questions arose over whether the same prohibitions on foreign-caught billfish imposed by the bill also applied to billfish caught commercially in Hawaii. If commercially caught billfish could be transported from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland, it would circumvent the intent of the conservation measure. Bill S. 396 simply clarifies that billfish landed in Hawaii must be retained there.
Implemented as originally intended, the law should make it easier for the U.S. to establish a greater leadership role for the international protection of billfish. View the full press release here.
And last week, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced the Small Shipyards and Maritime Communities Act (S. 1100) to reauthorize the Small Shipyard Grant Program through 2020. The bipartisan measure passed as a part of the Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act for FY2018. Small Shipyard grants support American shipyards and facilities under 1,200 employees that provide parts for shipbuilding and large vessels, maintenance and repair services. View the press release here.
Contact Nicole Vasilaros at Nvasilaros@nmma.org with questions.