As we move into 2020 ...
Many issues are moving in DC from proposed fishery regulations to the USCG Reauthorization Bill and pending legislation for new requirements on all for hire charter vessels that operate overnight trips. NACO is working for you on all these issues, and they are moving fast.
The pending legislation on new requirements for all for hire charter vessels that operate overnight trips is a most serious issue. Senator Feinstein and 2 other democratic Representatives introduced legislation near the end of the session last year and that legislation has now been incorporated into the USCG Reauthorization Bill that has already been passed by the Senate and the House and is in conference. NACO, working with other passenger vessel associations, has been working to reduce the impact of that legislation. President Bob Zales, II was on a conference call on 1-8-20 with the Senate Commerce Committee Staff and is in constant contact with them with suggestions for new requirements that will be inexpensive and not very burdensome, much less than what the current legislation will require. More news will be available after 1-13-20.
Several House bills will be before the House Natural Resources Committee on 1-14-20. These include HR 5126, the Descend Act, a bill that will require all vessels (charter, commercial, private) in the Gulf of Mexico to carry descending devices to use when discarding fish. NACO is opposed to using legislation for this type of requirement as the Fishery Management Council process is a better venue as it provides for stakeholder input and public hearings so a broad audience can be involved.
HR 1834 will prohibit certain chemicals such as sunscreens, to be used in marine sanctuaries and where corals are prevalent. We feel this is excessive and unenforceable. HR 2236, the Forage Fish Conservation Act, will require the Comptroller General to submit reports to Congress on Regional Fishery Management Councils actions to better manage forage fishes. HR 4679, Climate Ready Fisheries Act, will require fishery management agencies to prepare fishery management plans to react to climate change. HR 4723, Salmon Focused Investments in Sustainable Habits Act, will require identification of salmon conservation areas.
HR 5548, Fishery Failures: Urgently Needed Disaster Declarations Act, this legislation has been worked on along with the Senate version approved last year by NACO VP Butch Smith and President Bob Zales, II. These legislations will help to better quicker disaster declarations, include charter and commercial vessels and operations, and should provide for faster financial help for future fishery disasters whether by storms or by other means. NACO is working with other fishery associations to secure passage of these legislations.
2020 is starting out as a very busy year and NACO will be at the forefront on these and any other issues forthcoming. Your support, both by membership and financial is needed. If you are a member please renew today, if you are not please join, and please pass this info to others you know in our industry. NACO continues to work for you and the for hire charter industry.