IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
July 10, 2013
Ms. Cantwell (for herself, Mrs. Boxer, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Merkley, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Wyden, and Mr. Begich) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
To direct the Secretary of Commerce to issue a fishing capacity reduction loan to refinance the existing loan funding the Pacific Coast groundfish fishing capacity reduction program.
This Act may be cited as the
Revitalizing the Economy of Fisheries
in the Pacific Act
REFI Pacific Act
Congress makes the following findings:
In 2000, the Secretary of Commerce declared the West Coast groundfish fishery a Federal fisheries economic disaster due to low stock abundance, an overcapitalized fleet, and historically overfished stocks.
Section 212 of the Department of Commerce and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2003 (title II of division B of Public Law 108–7; 117 Stat. 80) was enacted to establish a Pacific Coast groundfish fishing capacity reduction program, also known as a buyback program, to remove excess fishing capacity.
In 2003, Congress authorized the $35,700,000 buyback loan, creating the Pacific Coast groundfish fishing capacity reduction program through the National Marine Fisheries Service fisheries finance program with a term of 30 years. The interest rate of the buyback loan was fixed at 6.97 percent and is paid back based on an ex-vessel fee landing rate not to exceed 5 percent for the loan.
The groundfish fishing capacity reduction program resulted in the removal of limited entry trawl Federal fishing permits from the fishery, representing approximately 46 percent of total landings at the time.
Because of an absence of a repayment mechanism, $4,243,730 in interest accrued before fee collection procedures were established in 2005, over 18 months after the groundfish fishing capacity reduction program was initiated.
In 2011, the West Coast groundfish fishery transitioned to an individual fishing quota fishery, which is a type of catch share program.
By 2015, West Coast groundfish fishermen’s expenses are expected to include fees of approximately $450 per day for observers, a 3-percent cost recovery fee as authorized by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801) for catch share programs, and a 5-percent ex-vessel landings rate for the loan repayment, which could reach 18 percent of their total gross revenue.
In 2012, the West Coast groundfish limited entry trawl fishery generated $63,000,000, an increase from an average of $45,000,000 during the years 2006 to 2011. This revenue is expected to continue to increase post-rationalization.
The purpose of this Act is to refinance the Pacific Coast groundfish fishery fishing capacity reduction program to protect and conserve the West Coast groundfish fishery and the coastal economies in California, Oregon, and Washington that rely on it.
Refinancing of Pacific Coast groundfish fishing capacity reduction loan
The Secretary of Commerce, upon receipt of such assurances as the Secretary considers appropriate to protect the interests of the United States, shall issue a loan to refinance the existing debt obligation funding the fishing capacity reduction program for the West Coast groundfish fishery implemented under section 212 of the Department of Commerce and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2003 (title II of division B of Public Law 108–7 ; 117 Stat. 80).
Except as otherwise provided in this section, the Secretary shall issue the loan under this section in accordance with subsections (b) through (e) of section 312 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act ( 16 U.S.C. 1861a ) and sections 53702 and 53735 of title 46, United States Code.
Notwithstanding section 53735(c)(4) of title 46, United States Code, a loan under this section shall have a maturity that expires at the end of the 45-year period beginning on the date of issuance of the loan.
Notwithstanding paragraph (1) and if there is an outstanding balance on the loan after the period described in paragraph (1), the Secretary may extend the loan under the terms provided in this section.
Limitation on fee amount
Notwithstanding section 312(d)(2)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act ( 16 U.S.C. 1861a(d)(2)(B) ), the fee established by the Secretary with respect to a loan under this section shall not exceed 3 percent of the ex-vessel value of the harvest from each fishery for where the loan is issued.
Notwithstanding section 53702(b)(2) of title 46, United States Code, the annual rate of interest an obligor shall pay on a direct loan obligation under this section is the percent the Secretary must pay as interest to borrow from the Treasury the funds to make the loan.
An individual who holds a subloan under the loan authorized by this section—
shall receive the interest rate described in paragraph (1) on the subloan; and
may pay off the subloan at any time notwithstanding subsection (c)(1).
Ex-Vessel landing fee
Calculations and accuracy
The Secretary shall set the ex-vessel landing fee to be collected for payment of the loan under this section—
as low as possible, based on recent landings value in the fishery, to meet the requirements of loan repayment;
upon issuance of the loan in accordance with paragraph (2); and
on a regular interval not to exceed every 5 years beginning on the date of issuance of the loan.
Deadline for initial ex-vessel landings fee calculation
Not later than 60 days after the date of issuance of the loan under this section, the Secretary shall recalculate the ex-vessel landing fee based on the most recent value of the fishery.
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Commerce to carry out this section an amount equal to 1 percent of the amount of the loan authorized under this section for purposes of the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (2 U.S.C. 661 et seq.).