The programme will further curb Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices and identify misrepresented seafood imports before they enter the US market.
The programme requires that importers report information and maintain records about the harvest, landing and chain of custody of imported fish and fish products for certain priority species identified as especially vulnerable to IUU fishing and seafood fraud. The programme will eventually expand to include all species.
“As a global leader in sustainable fisheries management and seafood consumption, the US has a responsibility to combat illegal practices that undermine the sustainability of our shared ocean resources,” said Dr Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator.
“We designed this program to further ensure that imported seafood is legally harvested and truthfully represented, with minimal burden to our partners.”
“This rule is a critical step forward in combating IUU and seafood fraud. It sends an important message to the international seafood community that if you are open and transparent about the seafood you catch and sell across the supply chain, then the US markets are open for your business,” said Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment at the US Department of State.
“The rule will build on similar global efforts and will provide confidence to our consumers in the seafood they eat while also leveling the playing field for honest fishers across the globe who play by the rules.”
The US will use the existing International Trade Data System to collect seafood catch and landing documentation for the priority seafood species. This data system is the US government’s data portal for all imports and exports. Information collected through this program is confidential and will not be available to consumers. Similar information for domestically harvested seafood is already reported under numerous existing state and federal regulatory requirements.
January 1, 2018, is the mandatory compliance date for most priority species listed in the rule.
Due to gaps in availability of information regarding US farmed shrimp and abalone, implementation for these species will be effective at a later date.