Contact: Scott Smullen        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           


The United States is taking steps to implement an international code of conduct that promotes the use of sound marine fisheries management measures in national and international waters, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today.

"The code of conduct is a broadly-gauged statement of responsible fisheries conduct that provides a comprehensive ethic for the foreseeable future," said Rolland Schmitten, director of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service. "As the United States provided global leadership in the development of the code's provisions, the fisheries service intends to continue this leadership in its implementation."

Negotiated since 1991 and adopted by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in 1995, the code contains six themes that emphasize increased responsibility in fisheries management, fishing operations, aquaculture development, integration of fisheries into coastal area management, post-harvest practices and trade and fisheries research.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has assessed relevant U.S. marine fisheries policies and practices as they relate to the code and has developed a draft implementation plan to meet the standards of the code. The fisheries service is looking to the fishing industry, environmental organizations and the public for comments on the draft implementation plan. The plan consists of theme concepts the United States intends to pursue within the next two years or more, to meet the goals of the code.

Although most of the code is voluntary and non-binding, it includes a binding compliance agreement that establishes a broad range of obligations for nations that have fishing vessels operating on the high seas, including the obligation to ensure that those vessels do not undermine international fishery conservation and management measures. Nations must also prohibit their vessels from fishing the high seas without specific authorization, and must take enforcement measures against vessels that disregard those rules. The United States has implemented the compliance agreement through the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act of 1995.

The National Marine Fisheries Service will accept comments about the code's draft implementation plan through Sept. 23, 1996. Comments and requests for the draft plan should be sent to: Dean Swanson, Acting Director, Office of International Affairs, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.


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