July 23, 2020

Whitehouse Maritime Security Amendment On Its Way to Becoming Law in NDAA

Amendment would crack down on illegal fishing and other illicit activity at sea

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today announced that his maritime security proposal has been incorporated as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act making its way through Congress.

“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing on the high seas is a persistent, elusive threat to marine life and to ocean economies like Rhode Island’s,” said Whitehouse.  “This amendment will help the U.S. get a handle on illicit activities at sea that threaten our national security, including pirate fishing.  I’m grateful to Congressman Langevin for his partnership in shepherding this amendment through the House.”

Whitehouse’s amendment includes provisions related to maritime security and illegal activity at sea.  It would:

  • Require the Department of Defense to report to Congress on the Navy’s implementation of measures to combat illegal fishing that were included in the FY 2020 NDAA.
  • Direct the Navy to work with the Coast Guard to assess commercial solutions for tracking vessels engaged in illegal fishing and other unlawful activity at sea, and sharing that information among U.S. maritime services and partner nations.
  • Require the Office of Naval Intelligence to report to Congress on the way bad actors like China use their distant-water fishing fleets to challenge the sovereignty of their neighbors, supplement the aggressive activities of their naval and coast guard vessels, and undermine the interests of the U.S. and its allies.

Each year, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing produces between 11 and 26 million tons of seafood, resulting in global economic losses valued between $10 billion and $23 billion.  According to a 2014 report by the Marine Conservation Institute, Rhode Island may have lost as much as $24 million in revenue and as many as 400 jobs due to IUU fishing.

The House version of the NDAA also includes the amendment, which was incorporated thanks to the efforts of Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).  The Senate passed its version of the FY 2021 NDAA by an 86-14 vote this afternoon.  The legislation now heads to conference with the House version of the bill.

 

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