Federal action plan signals US intentions to close door on black market fishing
“Today’s action plan marks a decisive shift in US policy. The Administration is essentially putting black market enterprises on notice that the US is closing its doors to their illegally caught seafood.
“Illegal fishing is one of the greatest threats to the future health of our oceans. The plan puts the Administration on a course toward the comprehensive, regulatory solutions needed to end the trade of black market fish.
“The plan has the right elements to ensure that seafood comes from legal sources, including common-sense requirements for catch information and product traceability. It’s critical that the Administration builds on the plan’s momentum and delivers on promised timelines to ensure that all seafood entering the US will be legal and responsibly caught.
“With illegal fishing risking the ecological health of our oceans, harming communities, and unfairly competing with honest American fishermen, there’s no time to wait.”
Background on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing
•The U.S. is the second largest market for seafood imports behind the European Union.
•Approximately 90% of seafood consumed in the United States is imported.
•It’s estimated that between 20-32% of the wild-caught seafood imported into the U.S. each year is illegally caught.
•It’s also estimated that IUU fishing accounts for 13-31% of global catch. The economic global losses attributed to IUU is estimated to be as much as $23 billion annually.
•The US imports more than 100 different species/groups of wild-caught fish, representing more than 450 different fish products, from more than 130 different countries.
•The entry of illegal seafood into U.S. markets undercuts efforts to manage fisheries sustainably, depresses seafood prices, and unfairly competes with legally caught US seafood products.
•How does illegal seafood go from bait to plate? This infographic explains how.
•Since June 2014, more than 125,000 WWF activists have urged President Obama to take strong steps to end the illegal fishing crisis.
Additional Background on the President’s IUU Task Force
On June 17, 2014, President Obama issued a memorandum directing Federal agencies to work together to combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud through a Federal Task Force. The Task Force, co-chaired by senior officials from the Departments of State and Commerce, included representatives from twelve departments, agencies, and offices. The Task Force was asked to develop recommendations to ensure that all seafood sold in the US is legally caught through improved transparency and traceability. WWF has noted that “as one of the top seafood importers in the world, the US has a responsibility to ensure that every fish bought in our stores, markets, and restaurants is fully traceable to where it was legally caught.”
On December 16, 2014, the Task Force released their recommendations to the President, which was followed by a 30-day public comment period to provide input on an implementation plan. At the time, WWF noted that the recommendations “opened the door to the comprehensive solution needed to end illegal fishing."