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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 12, 1998


To restore America's fisheries, and sustain the coastal communities that depend on them, the President is announcing measures to reduce overfishing and protect essential fish habitats -- including a ban on the sale or import of undersized Atlantic swordfish. The President is proposing an additional $194 million over five years to speed implementation, and is calling on other nations to undertake similar efforts.

In the past, oceans were thought to be inexhaustible sources of food. Today, most of the world's commercial fisheries are being exploited at or beyond their ability to sustain themselves. Apart from overfishing, many species are suffering from pollution, habitat destruction and wasteful "by-catch" -- the indiscriminate capture of noncommercial species, which usually are thrown back and die.

Marine fisheries support millions of U.S. jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity each year. The collapse of major fisheries in New England demonstrates the devastating impacts of overfishing on coastal communities and economies. With the help of federal efforts, New England fisheries now are beginning to rebound.

To rebuild and sustain America's marine fisheries, the President is proposing an additional $194 million in fiscal years 2000, 2001 and 2002 to:

       Acquire three state-of-the-art research vessels to increase the
     frequency and accuracy of fisheries assessments, providing better 
     data on the health and abundance of fish stocks so management 
     decisions are based on sound science.

      Develop measures by October, 1998 to meet the goals of the
     Sustainable Fisheries Act -- restoring depleted fish stocks within 
     10 years, protecting essential fish habitats, and reducing the 
     by-catch of noncommercial species.

      Implement a ban on the sale or import of undersized Atlantic
     swordfish (under 33 pounds) to help restore and sustain this 
     important fishery.

      Increase research and promote public-private partnerships to 
     develop environmentally-sound aquaculture -- commercial fish 
     production -- to ease pressure on ocean fisheries.

In addition, the President is calling on other nations to help reverse the decline in the world's fisheries by vigorously implementing measures to stop overfishing, eliminate the use of destructive fishing practices, and protect and restore essential fish habitats.