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Public Statements

Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. NAPOLITANO. I too am very concerned about the serious threat that the invasive species pose to nonnative waters.

As the ranking member of the Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee, we have held various hearings on the effects of the invasive quagga mussel, the zebra and quagga mussel in western waterways. I have even traveled to Colorado in order to understand how they are looking at the R&D to be able to see how we can eradicate this invasive species.

It was introduced into the West from the ballast water of vessels coming in from the Great Lakes. This mussel is a dime-sized mussel that clogs water infrastructure. The glue is so potent that nothing can take it off. It's in the pumps. It's in the intake valves and the pipelines, costing water agencies hundreds of thousands--if not millions--of dollars to clean out to allow for the water flow.

The Metropolitan Water District of southern California spent $25 million on fighting quagga mussels since 2007. The Bureau of Reclamation is having a major problem with the mussels, as they are causing funds to be spent to scrape them off those major pipelines instead of on projects needing those funds.

I have seen firsthand the damage the quagga has done to the dams and the water supply plants in southern California. This invasive species will continue to have a devastating impact on the water supply of the West, and we must address the fact that discharges of ballast water carrying invasive species can cause irreversible harm to our Nation's waters, as is already the case in some areas.

We must allow our State regulatory agencies the ability to protect against invasive species, and I will continue to oppose the bill if it includes provisions that hinder the States from protecting their water quality. I hope the chairman and the ranking member can come to some agreement that will help our States.

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Mrs. NAPOLITANO. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Our bipartisan amendment gives United States-flagged tuna vessels in the western Pacific Ocean the option of using Guam in addition to American Samoa as their annual required port of call in order to meet U.S. maritime regulations.

This amendment would save the U.S. tuna industry millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours that are needlessly wasted being forced by the U.S. maritime regulations to travel 2,600 miles out of their way to make port visits.

The background is that the 2006 Coast Guard Authorization Act allowed U.S.-flagged tuna vessels in the western Pacific to use internationally licensed officers.

The international officer provision was created because maritime officers in the western Pacific are primarily from western Pacific nations. U.S. maritime unions were not opposed to the provision. In order to meet the requirements of that provision, the bill has required tuna vessels to make an annual port call in American Samoa, some 2,000 miles away.

In 2006, the tuna fleet in the region was very small at 12 boats. American Samoa had a market to process the fish for those boats. Since 2006, however, the tuna fleet in the western Pacific has grown to 38 vessels.

Mr. Chairman, approximately 25 of those vessels supply fish to western Pacific processors and then ship the fish product to California, to Georgia, to Illinois, to Puerto Rico for canning. These canneries provide thousands of U.S. jobs. These 25 vessels are still required to travel over 2,600 miles to American Samoa and waste 7 days at sea. This costs each boat more than half a million to make this unnecessary trip.

The purpose of this amendment is to give these tuna boats the option of stopping in Guam in order to meet the requirement of visiting a U.S. port once a year, while receiving marine inspection by the largest Coast Guard sector station in the region.

And, of course, Guam is very close to the tuna fishing grounds. Guam's Coast Guard infrastructure and personnel are excellently equipped to provide these tuna vessels with proper marine inspection and safety review on a timely basis.

I urge all of my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment which will save our U.S. tuna industry millions of dollars. The U.S. House of Representatives is already on record supporting this provision. The provision was part of the Coast Guard authorization of 2009 that overwhelmingly passed this House.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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