The High Seas Fishing Compliance Act (“Act”) is a federal legislation enacted in 1995. The provisions relating to the Act are found under 16 U.S.C. §§ 5501 through 5509. The purpose of the Act is to: a. implement the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, adopted by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on November 24, 1993; and b. to establish a system of permitting, reporting, and regulation for vessels of the U.S. fishing on the high seas. The Act is enforced by the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, using personnel and facilities of other federal or state agencies by agreement.
The Act requires high seas fishing vessels to operate under permits issued by the Secretary of Commerce and to follow the international conservation and management measures. Persons who violate the Act are subject to civil, criminal, and forfeiture penalties for violation. It prohibits high seas fishing vessels of the U.S. from engaging in commercial harvesting operations on the high seas without a valid permit. The Secretary must establish permit conditions and restrictions to carry out U.S. obligations under the Agreement. Permits are valid for five years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may use permit fees to implement the Act.