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US Releases Key Recommendations to Combat Illegal Fishing

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US - The Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud, co-chaired by the Departments of State and Commerce, has released 15 recommendations to the President for a comprehensive framework to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

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The recommendations include input from various stakeholders and aim to level the playing field for legitimate fishermen, increase consumer confidence in the sustainability of seafood sold in the US, and ensure the vitality of marine fish stocks. The public will have an opportunity to comment on implementation of these recommendations.

The recommendations released today include:

  • International: Work with international governments, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, and others to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud at the international level.
  • Enforcement: Strengthen enforcement tools to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.
  • Partnerships: Create and expand partnerships with U.S. state and local governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations to identify and eliminate seafood fraud and IUU seafood in U.S. commerce.
  • Traceability: Create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into U.S. commerce to prevent entry of illegal product into the supply chain and better inform retailers and consumers.

“The United States is a global leader on sustainable seafood, and the seafood industry is an incredibly important sector in our nation’s economy,” said Dr Kathryn Sullivan, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the Department of Commerce.

“We have made tremendous strides in combating IUU fishing and seafood fraud, and the Task Force’s recommendations will build on these successes, and serve as an important tool as we strive to level the playing field for legitimate fishermen.”

According to NOAA, in 2013, US fishermen landed 9.9 billion pounds of fish and shellfish worth $5.5 billion. Globally, IUU fishing causes estimated losses of $10-$23 billion annually, fueling trafficking operations while undermining economic opportunities for US fishermen and others engaged in legal fishing.

“Seafood is one the most traded commodities in the world. Consumers should be able to have confidence their seafood was legally and sustainably harvested,” said Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment.

“The Task Force submitted strong recommendations to President Obama designed to stop the trade of illegal fish and promote the sale of sustainable seafood. IUU fishers gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace over law-abiding fishing operations as they do not pay the cost of sustainable production. The United States will continue to work with partners around the world to promote the proper management of marine resources for the benefit of future generations.”

The Pew Charitable Trusts issued the following statement from Karen Sack, senior director of international oceans: “This is a robust proposal that brings together the collective power of US government agencies in an approach that applies not only to national waters, but also to fishing done more than 200 miles offshore. The world can absolutely eradicate illegal fishing, and the recommendations laid out by the task force contain many of the measures that can help solve this global problem.”

“The US fishing industry, which supports nearly one million American jobs, is threatened when illegal foreign operators undercut the US market with cheaper, illegally caught imports. The task force recommends measures to catch these operators when their vessels tie up at US ports. In January, Congress can do its part by quickly sending the Port State Measures Agreement to the Oval Office for the president’s signature. Implementation of this agreement is a key part of stopping stolen fish from entering the US market,” she added.

The recommendations will be available for public review and comment for 30 days, beginning December 18, 2014, and closing January 20, 2015.

Specifically, the Task Force is requesting comment on how to implement these recommendations.

More information is available here: Based on comments received, the Task Force will develop an action plan for these recommendations to be released in early 2015.

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