16 U.S.C. § 1801 : US Code - Section 1801: Findings, purposes and policy

    (a) Findings
      The Congress finds and declares the following:
        (1) The fish off the coasts of the United States, the highly
      migratory species of the high seas, the species which dwell on or
      in the Continental Shelf appertaining to the United States, and
      the anadromous species which spawn in United States rivers or
      estuaries, constitute valuable and renewable natural resources.
      These fishery resources contribute to the food supply, economy,
      and health of the Nation and provide recreational opportunities.
        (2) Certain stocks of fish have declined to the point where
      their survival is threatened, and other stocks of fish have been
      so substantially reduced in number that they could become
      similarly threatened as a consequence of (A) increased fishing
      pressure, (B) the inadequacy of fishery resource conservation and
      management practices and controls, or (C) direct and indirect
      habitat losses which have resulted in a diminished capacity to
      support existing fishing levels.
        (3) Commercial and recreational fishing constitutes a major
      source of employment and contributes significantly to the economy
      of the Nation. Many coastal areas are dependent upon fishing and
      related activities, and their economies have been badly damaged
      by the overfishing of fishery resources at an ever-increasing
      rate over the past decade. The activities of massive foreign
      fishing fleets in waters adjacent to such coastal areas have
      contributed to such damage, interfered with domestic fishing
      efforts, and caused destruction of the fishing gear of United
      States fishermen.
        (4) International fishery agreements have not been effective in
      preventing or terminating the overfishing of these valuable
      fishery resources. There is danger that irreversible effects from
      overfishing will take place before an effective international
      agreement on fishery management jurisdiction can be negotiated,
      signed, ratified, and implemented.
        (5) Fishery resources are finite but renewable. If placed under
      sound management before overfishing has caused irreversible
      effects, the fisheries can be conserved and maintained so as to
      provide optimum yields on a continuing basis.
        (6) A national program for the conservation and management of
      the fishery resources of the United States is necessary to
      prevent overfishing, to rebuild overfished stocks, to insure
      conservation, to facilitate long-term protection of essential
      fish habitats, and to realize the full potential of the Nation's
      fishery resources.
        (7) A national program for the development of fisheries which
      are underutilized or not utilized by the United States fishing
      industry, including bottom fish off Alaska, is necessary to
      assure that our citizens benefit from the employment, food
      supply, and revenue which could be generated thereby.
        (8) The collection of reliable data is essential to the
      effective conservation, management, and scientific understanding
      of the fishery resources of the United States.
        (9) One of the greatest long-term threats to the viability of
      commercial and recreational fisheries is the continuing loss of
      marine, estuarine, and other aquatic habitats. Habitat
      considerations should receive increased attention for the
      conservation and management of fishery resources of the United
        (10) Pacific Insular Areas contain unique historical, cultural,
      legal, political, and geographical circumstances which make
      fisheries resources important in sustaining their economic
        (11) A number of the Fishery Management Councils have
      demonstrated significant progress in integrating ecosystem
      considerations in fisheries management using the existing
      authorities provided under this chapter.
        (12) International cooperation is necessary to address illegal,
      unreported, and unregulated fishing and other fishing practices
      which may harm the sustainability of living marine resources and
      disadvantage the United States fishing industry.
    (b) Purposes
      It is therefore declared to be the purposes of the Congress in
    this chapter - 
        (1) to take immediate action to conserve and manage the fishery
      resources found off the coasts of the United States, and the
      anadromous species and Continental Shelf fishery resources of the
      United States, by exercising (A) sovereign rights for the
      purposes of exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing all
      fish, within the exclusive economic zone established by
      Presidential Proclamation 5030, dated March 10, 1983, and (B)
      exclusive fishery management authority beyond the exclusive
      economic zone over such anadromous species and Continental Shelf
      fishery resources;
        (2) to support and encourage the implementation and enforcement
      of international fishery agreements for the conservation and
      management of highly migratory species, and to encourage the
      negotiation and implementation of additional such agreements as
        (3) to promote domestic commercial and recreational fishing
      under sound conservation and management principles, including the
      promotion of catch and release programs in recreational fishing;
        (4) to provide for the preparation and implementation, in
      accordance with national standards, of fishery management plans
      which will achieve and maintain, on a continuing basis, the
      optimum yield from each fishery;
        (5) to establish Regional Fishery Management Councils to
      exercise sound judgment in the stewardship of fishery resources
      through the preparation, monitoring, and revision of such plans
      under circumstances (A) which will enable the States, the fishing
      industry, consumer and environmental organizations, and other
      interested persons to participate in, and advise on, the
      establishment and administration of such plans, and (B) which
      take into account the social and economic needs of the States;
        (6) to encourage the development by the United States fishing
      industry of fisheries which are currently underutilized or not
      utilized by United States fishermen, including bottom fish off
      Alaska, and to that end, to ensure that optimum yield
      determinations promote such development in a non-wasteful manner;
        (7) to promote the protection of essential fish habitat in the
      review of projects conducted under Federal permits, licenses, or
      other authorities that affect or have the potential to affect
      such habitat.
    (c) Policy
      It is further declared to be the policy of the Congress in this
    chapter - 
        (1) to maintain without change the existing territorial or
      other ocean jurisdiction of the United States for all purposes
      other than the conservation and management of fishery resources,
      as provided for in this chapter;
        (2) to authorize no impediment to, or interference with,
      recognized legitimate uses of the high seas, except as necessary
      for the conservation and management of fishery resources, as
      provided for in this chapter;
        (3) to assure that the national fishery conservation and
      management program utilizes, and is based upon, the best
      scientific information available; involves, and is responsive to
      the needs of, interested and affected States and citizens;
      considers efficiency; draws upon Federal, State, and academic
      capabilities in carrying out research, administration,
      management, and enforcement; considers the effects of fishing on
      immature fish and encourages development of practical measures
      that minimize bycatch and avoid unnecessary waste of fish; and is
      workable and effective;
        (4) to permit foreign fishing consistent with the provisions of
      this chapter;
        (5) to support and encourage active United States efforts to
      obtain internationally acceptable agreements which provide for
      effective conservation and management of fishery resources, and
      to secure agreements to regulate fishing by vessels or persons
      beyond the exclusive economic zones of any nation;
        (6) to foster and maintain the diversity of fisheries in the
      United States; and
        (7) to ensure that the fishery resources adjacent to a Pacific
      Insular Area, including resident or migratory stocks within the
      exclusive economic zone adjacent to such areas, be explored,
      developed, conserved, and managed for the benefit of the people
      of such area and of the United States.