House passes new and improved Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON – By a strong bipartisan vote of 229-193, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3824, the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act (TESRA) of 2005 on Wednesday, September 28, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported in a statement today.

“The House of Representatives took a historic and courageous step forward last evening in passing legislation that will improve the implementation of the Endangered Species Act,” said Monita Fontaine, vice president of NMMA Government Affairs.

Representative Adam Putnam (R-FL) successfully added an amendment to TESRA that designates the ESA as the statutory authority over and above the Marine Mammal Protection Act when applying for a dock building permit. Manatees are protected under both the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). While these two acts work to protect marine mammals, they contain conflicting regulations that have resulted in confusing and, in many cases, excessive restrictions for boaters, including occasional moratoriums on dock building, according to NMMA.

Congressman Putnam worked closely with NMMA and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee in determining that the different rules set forth under these conflicting regulations have produced unintended negative consequences in the protection effort, and to fix the problem with language in TESRA that that makes the ESA the governing statutory authority when reviewing a dock building permit.

NMMA said it supports TESRA because it will update and improve the ESA by providing for the use of the best available scientific data in all decisions.

TESRA will replace the critical habitat program with a more integrated recovery planning process that includes the identification of specific areas that are of special value to the conservation of the species and then given priority in recovery efforts. TESRA will provide for active implementation of recovery plans through implementation agreements between the Secretary and other federal agencies where the federal agency agrees to implement programs and projects identified in the recovery plans. Finally, TESRA will require the development of recovery plan goals for species on a state-by-state basis and improving the State cooperative agreement provisions of Section 6 to cover candidate species and other species of concern among other things.

The bill now will be sent to the Senate, where the battle is expected to intensify, according to NMMA.

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