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President Signs Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act

President Obama has signed the Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act, H.R. 6452, into law. It implements the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean, the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean, and the amendments to the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries.

"I recommended that the Senate give its advice and consent to the ratification of all of these treaties because they will help promote sound fishery management; enable us to better combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; and prevent destructive fishing practices and contribute to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources on the high seas," the president said in his signing statement. "I appreciate the efforts of the Congress to ensure that the United States can contribute to these international efforts."

The new law provides that the United States will be represented on the North Pacific Fisheries Commission by five commissioners -- two appointed by the president and the three chairs of the North Pacific, Pacific, and Western Pacific Fishery Management Councils, who are selected by the members of those councils.

U.S. Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; and Edward Markey, D-Mass., introduced the bill, which unanimously passed the U.S. Senate this month. It is intended to better manage some fisheries in the North and South Pacific and improve international fisheries management in the North Atlantic.

"This legislation will rightfully give the United States a voice and assert our influence in both the fisheries management and conservation decisions in the high seas areas covered by these treaties," Sullivan said after it passed. "Doing so will provide opportunities for our fishermen in the future and help to protect their current activities for generations to come."

"Nations around the world look to the United States for leadership on how to manage fisheries," Schatz added. "Our legislation brings the remaining Pacific fisheries under international management and establishes penalties for fishing illegally. By working together with foreign countries, we can establish global management plans that will keep our oceans healthy and productive for ourselves today and for the generations that follow. I want to thank Senator Sullivan and Senator Markey for their commitment to keeping world fisheries healthy."

Markey said international cooperation is essential to ensure healthy fishery resources.

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