June 18, 2014
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Tuesday an initiative to track every fish sold in the United States — a move designed to crack down on illegal fishing, mislabeling of seafood and related problems.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who is leading the push for new ocean conservation measures, said the measures will "ensure all seafood sold in the U.S. is both sustainable and traceable, meaning all customers will know exactly who caught it, where and when."
The United States plays a big role in the world's seafood market; it's the largest importer after Japan. But an estimated 20 percent to 32 percent of the wild-caught imports are illegal and unreported, according to a study published this year in the journal Marine Policy.
Tuesday's announcement, delivered in a taped message from the president and in person by Kerry at an "Our Ocean" conference in Washington, was well-received by a crowd representing 80 countries and several environmental organizations.
But the proposal quickly drew criticism from congressional Republicans, who contend that the administration over-regulates natural resources industries and that the president has overreached his constitutional powers.