The administration U.S. President Barack Obama has announced the implementation of the Seafood Import Monitoring Program to qualified enthusiasm from environmental groups.
The fruits of the Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud, authorized by Obama in June 2014, the program will require “at-risk” seafood that is imported into the United States to be tracked to its source and properly labeled.
Studies by ocean conservation watchdog Oceana found that around one-third of market and restaurant seafood products were mislabeled, while the organization estimates that up to one-third of the wild-caught seafood being imported into the United States is the result of IUU fishing.
Oceana’s senior campaign director Beth Lowell released a statement today saying the program should help protect U.S. fisherman from being undermined by illegally caught imports.
“For the first time ever, some imported seafood will now be held to the same standards as domestically caught fish, helping to level the playing field for American fishermen and reducing the risk facing U.S. consumers,” Lowell’s statement said.
However, Lowell went on to say that more work needs to be done to protect consumers, fisherman, and the ocean.
“We must continue to build on this important work and expand seafood traceability to include all seafood sold in the U.S. and extend it throughout the entire supply chain. Without full-chain traceability for all seafood, consumers will continue to be cheated, hardworking, honest fishermen will continue to be undercut, and the long-term productivity of our oceans will continue to be in jeopardy,” she wrote.
Carter Roberts, the president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund, also praised the new regulations, but hopes to see them deepened in the next administration.
“More work remains. This rule only accounts for a number of at-risk species, which make up about 25 percent of illegal imports. The federal government should move quickly to rein in illegal imports of shrimp, which drive down prices, hurting hard-working coastal fishermen. We hope the next administration will continue this work and fight to keep all illegal products out of US markets,” Roberts said in a statement released Dec. 8.
According to government agencies, the United States imports 90 percent of its seafood, of which 2 percent is currently inspected.
This story appeared first on SeafoodSource.com. It is reprinted with permission.