Statement on Signing the Bill Reauthorizing the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act of 1984

October 1, 1986

I am pleased to sign into law enrolled bill H.R. 3358, which extends the authorization of appropriations contained in the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act of 1984 and makes certain other changes to that act. This law will continue the effective Federal enforcement of efforts designed to protect and conserve the stock of Atlantic striped bass. In signing this legislation, I note that section 2 preserves in full the discretion of the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior to determine whether a State is in compliance with the interstate fisheries management plan and, therefore, whether a moratorium should be imposed. While the statute provides that the Secretaries shall carefully consider the comments of the Atlantic States Fisheries Commission, the actual determination is theirs to make.

Any interpretation of the statute that would vest the Atlantic States Fisheries Commission, a body composed of State officials, with the authority to limit the exercise of enforcement discretion under Federal law by executive branch officials would raise a serious constitutional question. I sign this bill with the understanding that it grants no such authority and that if it were interpreted in such a restrictive fashion it would contravene the Constitution.

Note: H.R. 3358, approved October 1, was assigned Public Law No. 99 - 432.