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Combatting Illegal Fishing and Seafood Fraud is Aim of New Framework

Thursday, June 19, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

President Obama issued June 17 a memorandum establishing a framework of actions to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as well as seafood fraud.

The memo states that global losses attributable to the black market from IUU fishing are estimated to be $10-23 billion annually, weakening profitability for legally caught seafood, fueling illegal trafficking operations and undermining economic opportunity for legitimate fishermen. To promote a framework that supports sustainable fishing practices and combats seafood fraud and the sale of IUU fishing products, the memo adds, the U.S. will need to enhance the tools it has available, including by implementing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing; strengthening coordination and implementation of existing authorities; working with Congress to strengthen and harmonize the enforcement provisions of U.S. statutes for implementing international fisheries agreements; and working with industry and foreign partners to develop and implement new and existing enforcement measures (e.g., traceability programs) and ensure accurate labeling for consumers.

The new framework includes the following elements.

- directs all executive departments and agencies to strengthen coordination and implementation of relevant existing authorities concerning IUU enforcement and, where appropriate, to improve the transparency and traceability of the seafood supply chain

- directs all agencies and offices charged with overseeing the seafood supply chain and verifying the authenticity of its products to implement and enforce relevant policies, regulations and laws to ensure that seafood sold in the U.S. is legally caught and accurately labeled

- makes it the policy of the U.S. to promote legally and sustainably caught and accurately labeled seafood and to take appropriate actions within existing authorities and budgets to assist foreign nations in building capacity to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud

- establishes a subcommittee reporting to the National Ocean Council that will (a) make recommendations (taking into account enforcement best practices and challenges, costs and benefits, industry efforts, etc.) for the implementation of a comprehensive framework of integrated programs to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud that emphasizes areas of greatest need and (b) begins implementing those recommendations upon receiving guidance from the president

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