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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 3, 2006

Statement on Protection of Sustainable Fisheries

The President today directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in consultation with Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, to further strengthen the efforts of the United States to protect sustainable fisheries and to safeguard their effective use by calling for an end to destructive fishing practices, such as unregulated bottom trawling on the high seas. The President emphasized that it remains United States policy to support protection and use of sustainable fisheries as a food source and to meet the needs of commercial and recreational fishing.

In today's memorandum, the President directed the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, to work with other countries and international organizations to eliminate unregulated destructive fishing practices that jeopardize fish stocks and the habitats that support them. Specifically, the Secretary of State is directed to work with Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) and other cooperative arrangements to establish rules based on sound science to enhance sustainable fishing practices and to end destructive fishing practices, such as unregulated bottom trawling, explosives and chemicals that destroy the long-term productivity of ecosystems such as seamounts, corals, and sponge fields. Importantly, the President directed the Secretary of State to work with other countries to establish new institutional arrangements, including new RFMOs, to protect ecosystems in high seas areas where no such competent arrangement currently exists. The President also called for a cessation of destructive fishing activity in areas of the high seas where there are no applicable conservation or management measures or in areas with no applicable international fishery management organization or agreement, until such time as conservation and management measures consistent with the goals of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, and other relevant instruments are adopted and implemented to regulate such fisheries.

The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, is also directed to develop and promulgate criteria to guide the identification of marine ecosystems that are at risk because of destructive fishing practices, and to work with other countries on enhanced monitoring and surveillance to combat unlawful, unregulated and unreported fishing.

The President's renewal of America's commitment to sustainable fisheries is consistent with the innovative and effective strategies being developed through the regional fishery management process under the landmark Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The President has called on Congress to send for his signature a reauthorized Act that will end overfishing and rebuild fisheries that are still depleted. The Administration has also sent to the Congress proposed legislation to establish a well-managed system for sustainable offshore aquaculture. Recent Administration actions to protect fisheries and habitat in U.S. waters have included the President's establishment of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument and the Department of Commerce's establishment of essential fish habitat in large areas around the Aleutian Islands.

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