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New Bycatch Rule Established for US Seafood Imports

Lucy Towers
12 August 2016, at 1:00am

US - Nations exporting fish and fish products to the United States will have to meet fishing standards for protecting marine mammals equal to those American fishermen follow, under a final rule published by NOAA Fisheries.

US trade partners will need to show that killing or injuring marine mammals incidental to fishing activities, or bycatch, in their export fisheries do not exceed US standards.

“Fishing gear entanglements or accidental catch is a global threat to marine mammal populations,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Establishing these bycatch criteria mark a significant step forward in the global conservation of marine mammals.”

The rule takes effect on 1 January 2017, and establishes a one-time-only, initial five-year exemption period to give nations time to assess their marine mammal stocks, and estimate and lower their bycatch.

Over time, NOAA Fisheries expects the rule to help safeguard the US seafood supply from products harvested unsustainably, without greatly limiting consumers’ seafood choices.