Center for American Progress

RELEASE: U.S. Has Options to Fight Illegal Fishing and Seafood Fraud
Press Release

RELEASE: U.S. Has Options to Fight Illegal Fishing and Seafood Fraud

Washington, D.C. — According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, more than 90 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported. Most of the exporting countries lack science-based sustainability and the standards that have been mandated for domestic producers. Too often this results in unscrupulous producers exploiting low-enforcement capacity to dump illegally caught seafood on the market and even to mislabel the type of fish in order to yield higher prices or circumvent quotas.

The Center for American Progress has released a brief today that looks at the twin scourges of illegal, unreported, and unregulated—or IUU—fishing activity and the lack of traceability in the supply chain. The brief analyzes the problems caused by these bad actors, what the administration and the U.S. Congress are currently doing to combat it, and ways to strengthen those efforts.

“The U.S. has some of the strongest and most comprehensive fishery laws in the world, yet a lack of cohesive enforcement from other countries means that Americans still consume millions of tons of unsustainably caught and mislabeled seafood every year,” said Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress. “By improving the way domestic and international fishery managers deal with bad actors looking to sell illegal fish, the U.S. can make environmental and economic headway. President Barack Obama has taken admirable steps to do this, which must be implemented before the clock runs out on his administration, but the nonpartisan nature of this issue means continuing this work should be a priority for the next Congress and the next president as well.”

The administration created the Presidential Task Force on Combating IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud two years ago. The task force wrote a 15-point action plan, which was finalized a year later, outlining recommendations to be implemented across 14 federal agencies. Since that time, NOAA has also released a proposed rule for a national seafood traceability program that identifies 13 groups of at-risk species. The brief calls for the United States and the European Union—which, in part, modeled its own domestic fishery laws after those of the United States—to use their combined market power to impose strong standards that would drive suppliers around the world to crack down on bad actors coming from their own waters.

Click here to read the brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.

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