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Friday, January 6, 2012
Inouye’s Pirate Fishing Bill Cited as Example of Over-Criminalization
By Heritage Foundation @ 1:45 PM :: 6156 Views :: Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics


S. 1980: The Pirate Fishing Elimination Act

Sponsor: Inouye (D -HI)

Official Title: A bill to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through port state measures.


12/12/2011: Introduced in Senate

12/12/2011: Referred to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

Commentary: This bill aims to stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by denying port entry and services to vessels that engage in this activity. This bill contains no intent language as to the prohibited acts in regards to criminal and civil forfeiture. The prohibited acts include violating regulations, resisting arrest or search of vessel, and submitting false information. A violation is punishable by criminal forfeiture of “any property, real or personal, constituting or traceable to the gross proceeds taken, obtained, or retained, in connection with or as a result of the offense” and “any property, real or personal, used or intended to be used, in any manner, to commit or facilitate the commission of the offense” including fish and the vessel itself. For criminal enforcement, the bill only provides a minimal “knowingly” criminal intent term, and a violation is punishable, for an individual, by up to 5 years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine; and for an organization, the fine maximum is $1,000,000. A violation of some specific prohibited acts by individuals, who “in the exercise of due care should know that such person’s conduct violates such subsections” is punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and a fine under Title 18, U.S. Code.



"Overcriminalization" includes:

1. Federalizing crime that properly belongs under state and local jurisdiction;

2. Imposing criminal penalties upon persons who acted without criminal intent (mens rea);

3. Applying criminal sanctions to conduct that historically has not been considered wrongful.

The Legislative Update Alert includes bills our researchers have identified that add or expand federal criminal offenses or penalties, but it generally does NOT include bills involving drugs, firearms, or crimes of violence.
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