Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans & Insular Affairs

Democratic Members of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs

Rep. Sablan,Ranking Member


Fisheries and Coastal Communities

Thriving, sustainable fisheries are a vital component of our economy, providing good-paying jobs.  Commercial and recreational fisheries contribute $163 billion in economic activity and support over 1.8 million jobs.  As one of the largest consumers of seafood in the world, the United States has long demonstrated strong leadership in responsible, science-based fisheries management.  The committee's role is to ensure that our fisheries continue to support our economic and societal well-being for generations to come.



Past, present, and future generations look to the world's oceans for sustenance, transport, recreation jobs and inspiration. More than one-half of the world's population lives within 60 miles of the ocean.

By 2025, nearly 75% of the U.S. population will live in coastal counties. The need to protect ecosystems, ensuring clean, safe, healthy oceans is the task of this committee.



For over 100 years, the United States has demonstrated one of the strongest commitments to protect wildlife throughout the world.  Abundant, healthy populations of wildlife provides countless benefits to the American people.  From hunting and fishing, to wildlife observation, to scientific research, wildlife greatly contributes to our nation's economy and culture.  The committee's task is to ensure that our wildlife resources are managed and conserved so that future generations continue to benefit from our wildlife resources.


Insular Areas

American Samoa

American Samoa became a U.S. territory by deed of cession, starting in 1900. The matai (local chiefs) of Tutuila, the largest island in American Samoa, ceded the island to the United States in 1900. Manu'a followed in 1904. Swain Island joined the territory in 1925 by an act of the Congress. Current American Samoa issues include:

  • Diversify its Tuna canning based economy
  • Adapting to U.S. minimum wage rate.

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Guam became a U.S. territory in 1898 and was placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy. The Guam Organic Act of 1950 conferred U.S. citizenship on Guamanians and established the territory's government. The Act also transferred Federal jurisdiction over Guam from the U.S. Navy to the Department of the Interior. First elections were held in 1970. Current Guam issues include:

  • The relocation of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force from Okinawa to Guam
  • Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act (H.R. 44 - to recognize the suffering and the loyalty of the people of Guam during the Japanese occupation of Guam in World War II.
  • Expansion of the Guam/CNMI Visa Waiver Program

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Commonweath of the Northern Mariana Islands

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) emerged from the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) which the United States administered on behalf of the United Nations from 1947 until Palau, the last member of the TTPI to choose its own political future, became an independent country 1994. The federal law (the Covenant) making the CNMI a U.S. territory passed in 1975. The CNMI adopted its constitution in 1977, and its first constitutional government took office in 1978. The CNMI came under federal minimum wage regulations in 2007 and immigration law in 2008. In June 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security took over the CNMI's immigration and border controls. Major CNMI issues include:

  • Transition from CNMI to U.S. Immigration and border control; and
  • Economic Development

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US Virgin Islands

The United States purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million, mainly for strategic reasons to assure tranquility in the Caribbean Ocean. U.S. citizenship was conferred on U.S. Virgin Islanders in 1927. The Organic Act of 1936 laid the foundation for self-government and a more elaborate governmental structure emerged from the revised Organic Act of 1954. The first elections for constitutional officers were held in 1970. USVI issues include:

  • Economic and Political Development

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Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, a U.S. possession since 1898, became a commonwealth in 1952. Since then, Puerto Ricans have been considering three significantly different political status options --statehood, enhanced commonwealth, and independence -- as an alternative to the present relationship with the United States.

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Freely Associated States under the Compact of Free Association