President Obama signed the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act last Thursday, strengthening the U.S. commitment to fighting seafood fraud.
The bi-partisan legislation will help prevent illegally harvested fish from entering the United States, and supports efforts to achieve sustainable fisheries around the world.
With the signing of this act, the U.S. joins a global effort to ratify and implement the Port State Measures Agreement, which will prevent vessels carrying fish caught illegally from entering U.S. ports and keep illegal product out of U.S. markets.
“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing undermines both the economic and environmental sustainability of our nation’s fisheries,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., under secretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Combating IUU fishing and seafood fraud is critical to sustaining the resilience of our global ocean fisheries, to leveling the playing field for the United States fishing and seafood industries, and to protecting the United States’ reputation as a leader in sustainable seafood. Passage of this bill is a step in the right direction, and will help the United States advance its ongoing efforts to achieve sustainable fisheries.”
The United States now joins 13 other nations that have already ratified the PSMA, which will be legally binding once a total of 25 countries have ratified it.
“We lose billions of dollars globally each year to IUU fishing, which is often associated with other illegal activities such as human trafficking,” said Catherine Novelli, under secretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment. “We will work with partner nations around the world to ensure that 25 countries ratify the Port State Measures Agreement and allow it to enter into force. We are more than halfway there, and the U.S. is committed to getting this finalized as soon as possible. Together, we can stop illegal fish from entering ports around the world and ensure a healthy and bountiful ocean for future generations.”
The United States has already implemented most of the measures outlined in the PSMA domestically, and this formal ratification provides the United States additional leverage to encourage ratification and adoption of these measures by other countries so that it will apply to ports around the world.
In addition, the measure will allow the United States to ratify the Antigua Convention and fully participate in the work of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, which manages tunas and other highly migratory species in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
More information about the Action Plan and Task Force recommendations can be found here.