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Fishery Conservation and Management Act Amendments Statement on Signing S. 917 Into Law.

August 15, 1979

Today I have signed into law an act to amend the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 to provide appropriations for that act for fiscal years 1980, 1981, and 1982, and for other purposes.

A major substantive amendment contained in this act establishes a procedure designed to protect whales. This amendment, initially introduced by Senators Magnuson and Packwood, provides for reductions in fishing allocations within our 200-mile fishing zone to nations which are certified by the Secretary of Commerce to be diminishing the effectiveness of the International Whaling Convention. The bill will allow the certified nation up to 1 year to remedy the conditions leading to the certification before its fishing allocation is completely terminated. Certification under this act would also result in certification under the Pelly amendment (section 8 of the Fishermen's Protective Act) which provides for embargoes of fish imports from certified nations.

I applaud Senator Magnuson, Senator Packwood, and the Members of the House who sponsored this bill. The protection and conservation of the world's dwindling number of great whales is a major environmental concern of my administration, the Congress, and the American people. I believe that it is necessary for us to demonstrate our Nation's commitment to the conservation of whales. This bill will provide a useful tool in situations where no others are available to us.

This bill also amends section 8 of the Fishermen's Protective Act of 1967 to specifically require the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior, as appropriate, to promptly investigate and act upon any actions by foreign nations that might be cause for certification. It also provides specifically for termination of certifications once the original conditions have been rectified. These are definite improvements to the Pelly amendment.

With regard to both the Packwood-Magnuson and Pelly amendments, the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior should work with the Secretary of State to take prompt action to ensure that all avenues of negotiation are fully exhausted before certification is made against any foreign nation. However, in those negotiations all nations will be informed of the implications of these two amendments and the determination of this Government to use them if remedial action is not undertaken. Certification under this act will of course take place only to further the purposes of this act, that is, to provide strong support for the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and for the conservation of the whales.

I believe it is important also that this act makes clear the original intention of the FCMA when it was passed in 1976. These amendments require that American-owned vessels engaged in harvesting fish in the Fishery Conservation Zone must be built in America in order to be entitled to harvest fish in America's fishery zone. This "American-built" requirement will protect the massive capital investment that American fishermen and shipyards have made in anticipation of the FCMA. This amendment does not encompass vessels engaged in activities other than fish harvesting, such as fish processing. Additionally, it does not change existing law with respect to the definition of fisheries, except to the extent that it expands the existing interpretation of the definition's geographical scope to the full 200-mile Fishing Conservation Zone.

Concerning section 2 of the act, it is my understanding that this amendment is not intended to affect foreign fishing under the Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Governing International Fishery Agreements, or other fishery agreements to which we are party. It is also my understanding, in light of the provisions of the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, in Political Union with the United States of America, that section 2 of the act will not preclude the use of foreign-built vessels by fishermen of the Northern Mariana Islands for fishing in the Fishery Conservation Zone or the landing of catch by such vessels.

For many years now the United States has been active in trying to gain international recognition of the need to protect great whales. We are justly proud of the contributions to this effort made by many concerned citizens and conservation organizations. There is much to be done before heavily hunted species of whales again safely flourish in the oceans. The law that I am signing today demonstrates to the world America's determination to save the great whales.

Note: As enacted, S. 917 is Public Law 96-61, approved August 15.

Jimmy Carter, Fishery Conservation and Management Act Amendments Statement on Signing S. 917 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250256

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