[House Report 106-428]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



106th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    106-428

======================================================================



 
             SENSE OF THE CONGRESS REGARDING SHARK FINNING

                                _______
                                

  November 1, 1999.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be 
                                printed

                                _______


  Mr. Young of Alaska, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                    [To accompany H. Con. Res. 189]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the 
concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 189) expressing the sense 
of the Congress regarding the wasteful and unsportsmanlike 
practice known as shark finning, having considered the same, 
report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that 
the bill as amended do pass.
    The amendment (stated in terms of the page and line numbers 
of the introduced bill) is as follows:
    Page 3, beginning at line 8, amend paragraph (2) to read as 
follows:
    (2) all Federal and State agencies and other management 
entities that have jurisdiction over fisheries in waters of the 
United States where the practice of shark finning is not 
prohibited should promptly and permanently end that practice in 
those waters; and

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H. Con. Res. 189 is to express the sense of 
the Congress regarding the wasteful and unsportsmanlike 
practice known as shark finning.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    Sharks are harvested in many parts of the world in directed 
fisheries; however, in the United States waters, they are 
primarily caught as bycatch in pelagic longline fisheries such 
as the swordfish and tuna fisheries. In some fisheries, the 
shark is landed and both the flesh of the shark and the fins 
are sold for food purposes. In fisheries where the shark's fin 
is the primary product from the animal, the fins are removed at 
sea and often are dried before they are landed.
    Shark finning is currently prohibited in fisheries of the 
United States in waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, 
and the Caribbean Ocean; the practice is not illegal in the 
Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Shark finning is a practice 
where the fins of a shark are removed and retained while a 
portion or all of the carcass is then discarded back into the 
ocean. Fins account for between one and five percent of the 
total weight of a shark.
    The fins of sharks are the primary ingredient in shark-fin 
soup. The increasing popularity of shark-fin soup in Asia has 
increased the practice of shark finning in Hawaii. In fact, in 
1991, the percentage of sharks retained by the longline 
fisheries for finning was approximately three percent. By 1998, 
that percentage had grown to 60 percent. Between 1991 and 1998, 
the number of sharks retained by the Hawaii-based swordfish and 
tuna longline fishery had increased from 2,289 to 60,857 
annually. In 1998, over 98 percent of these sharks were killed 
for their fins. The Hawaiian longline fleet produces between 
66,000-88,000 pounds of shark fins per year. This is 
approximately one percent of the worldwide production of shark 
fins.
    The blue shark is the primary shark affected by finning in 
the Western Pacific Ocean. Of the approximately 100,000 sharks 
that are caught off Hawaii, 90 to 95 percent of these sharks 
are blue sharks. The population of blue sharks is unknown in 
the Pacific Ocean, but the Honolulu Laboratory of the National 
Marine Fisheries Service is working on a comprehensive stock 
assessment of blue sharks that is expected to be completed in 
May of 2000.
    Fisheries in United States waters are primarily managed 
through federal legislation known as the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act delegates management of 
fishery resources in the Pacific Ocean seaward of the State of 
Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and 
the other insular areas of the United States in the Pacific 
Ocean area to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management 
Council.
    Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 
requires that fishery management plans must be consistent with 
the national standards for fishery conservation and management. 
Included in these national standards is a requirement that 
``Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent 
practicable, (A) minimize bycatch and (B) to the extent bycatch 
cannot be avoided, minimize the mortality of such bycatch.'' 
Since the primary source of shark fins is a result of bycatch 
in longline fisheries, the increased retention and increased 
mortality of sharks has caused concern among fisheries managers 
and environmental organizations.
    The National Marine Fisheries Service has written to the 
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on several 
occasions urging the Council to stop the practice of shark 
finning which is prohibited in all other U.S. waters. While the 
Council has repeatedly rejected this recommendation, it did 
meet during the week of October 18, 1999. At that time, the 
members of the Council debated the issue of shark finning and 
they agreed to reduce from 60,000 to 50,000 the number of 
sharks killed by the Hawaii longline fleet. The Committee 
believes that this measure is inadequate and that the Council 
must stop this wasteful practice.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H. Con. Res. 189 was introduced on September 27, 1999, by 
Congressman Randy (Duke) Cunningham (R-CA) and now has 11 co-
sponsors. H. Con. Res. 189 was referred to the Committee on 
Resources, and within the Committee to the Subcommittee on 
Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans. On October 21, 
1999, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the bill. Testimony 
was heard from Congressman Cunningham; Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, 
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine 
Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, Department of Commerce; Mr. James D. Cook, 
Chairman, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council; 
Mr. Russell Dunn, Assistant Director, Ocean Wildlife Campaign; 
Dr. Robert E. Hueter, Senior Scientist and Director, Center for 
Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory; and Ms. Brooke Burns, 
Actress, Baywatch Hawaii. Each witness, except for the Chairman 
of the Western Pacific Regional Fishing Management Council, 
testified in strong support of the resolution. In fact, the 
Administration witness stated that ``NOAA believes that shark 
finning is wasteful and that shark finning should be prohibited 
in all U.S. waters.''
    On October 27, 1999, the Full Committee met to consider H. 
Con. Res. 189. The Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, 
Wildlife and Oceans was discharged from further consideration 
of the measure by unanimous consent. Delegate Eni Faleomavaega 
(D-AS) offered an amendment that expanded the coverage of the 
resolution by directing all federal and state agencies, and 
other management entities (including the Western Pacific 
Regional Fishing Management Council) with jurisdiction over 
those areas where shark finning now occurs to promptly and 
permanently end that practice. The amendment was adopted by 
voice vote. The resolution, as amended, was then favorably 
reported to the House of Representatives by voice vote.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Resources' oversight findings and recommendations 
are reflected in the body of this report.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact this bill.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    3. Government Reform Oversight Findings. Under clause 
3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee has received no report of 
oversight findings and recommendations from the Committee on 
Government Reform on this bill.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

H. Con. Res. 189--Expressing the sense of the Congress regarding the 
        wasteful and unsportsmanlike practice known as shark finning

    H. Con. Res. 189 would express the sense of the Congress 
that federal, state, and regional agencies should prohibit the 
practice of shark finning in federal and state waters in the 
Pacific Ocean and elsewhere. Shark finning is the practice of 
removing a shark's fins and dumping the carcass into the water. 
CBO estimates that H. Con. Res. 189 would have no impact on the 
federal budget. The legislation would not affect direct 
spending or receipts; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would 
not apply.
    Ths staff contact is Deborah Reis. This estimate was 
approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for 
Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

               PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL, OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local, or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.