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Ellen Paul

Bill to protect albatrosses and petrels gains traction in the House

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This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 11 ornithological societies. Join or renew your membership in your ornithological society if you value the services these societies provide to you, including OrnithologyExchange and the Ornithological Council.

After being introduced in several successive Congresses without success, legislation introduced by Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) in the 116th (current) Congress to protect albatrosses and petrels has gained traction. The House Committee Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife held a hearing on H.R. 1305 in March and the full House Natural Resources Committee approved the bill on 19 June 2019. It now moves to the full House for a vote.

If enacted, this legislation would allow the Secretary of Commerce to undertake a range of activities to protect these species throughout the U.S. territorial waters (12 nautical miles from shore) and the U.S. exclusive economic zone (200 nautical miles from the territorial waters). The legislation also gives the Secretary of Commerce authority under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the other statutes; it also addresses fisheries bycatch and protection of marine habitat under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

It would also prohibit deliberate take unless a permit is obtained.

Unfortunately, there is no analogous bill in the Senate and it is unlikely that the Republican-led Senate would consider such legislation.

 

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