Education, fisheries treaties implementation, IUU fisheries, and seasonal forecasting bills gained bipartisan support in a markup today; the fate of these bills will depend on the Senate.
The bipartisan Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) Education Act of 2015 (H.R. 1020) and the various fisheries implementation related bills (North Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act, S. 1335; Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Amendments Act, S.1251; and South Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act, S. 1336) were adopted and reported favorably without amendments during their markup by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. H.R. 1020 would define STEM education to include computer science, and to support existing STEM education programs at the National Science Foundation. S. 1335 and S. 1336 would implement treaties ratified by the Senate last year to manage certain North and South Pacific fisheries, while S. 1251 would implement the Amendment to the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries.
The Seasonal Forecasting Improvement Act (S. 1331) was also marked up and passed out of committee this week. The bill proposes to help enhance commerce through improved seasonal forecasts and “will encourage the development of usable, reliable, and timely seasonal forecasts,” Chairman John Thune (R-SD) explained. “These forecasts would allow a variety of users, including farmers and ranchers, to make better informed business decisions. The bill would also speed the pace of moving research into operations at NOAA and provide critical improvements to NOAA’s satellite governance.”
The Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act (S.1334) was reported with a modification provided by Sen. Sullivan, a co-sponsor of the bill. “[S. 1334] will ensure fairness for U.S. fishermen on the water and in the marketplace, and establish uniform procedures and penalties for the enforcement of High Seas Fishing Laws,” Chairman John Thune (R-SD) explained in his opening statement. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a co-sponsor of the bill, expanded on this, “Pirate fishing poses a serious threat to the livelihood of many in Alaska, and takes money out of the pockets of hardworking men and women. This is a tremendously important step to protect the 80,000 Alaskans directly or indirectly impacted by our state’s robust seafood industry.”