S. 494 would establish the American Fisheries Advisory Committee within the Department of Commerce (DOC). The committee would consist of representatives from each of six geographic regions and at-large members with experience in the seafood and fisheries industries, as selected by DOC. Under the bill, the committee would be responsible for identifying the needs of fishing communities, developing requests for proposals for research and development grants to meet those needs, reviewing grant applications, and selecting applicants to receive funding.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration currently administers the fishery research and development grant program described above. That program’s funding is derived from DOC’s permanent statutory authority to spend 30 percent of customs receipts collected from imported fishery products. In 2018 the agency spent $16 million for those purposes. S. 494 would shift the authority to administer that grant program to the newly established committee. The bill also would expand eligibility for grant applicants to include projects related to fisheries science and recreational fishing.
S. 494 would not change the amount of authorized spending of custom receipts (although the composition of that spending might change). Thus, CBO estimates that enacting S. 494 would not affect the federal budget.