The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced finalized principles for determining seafood species at risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and seafood fraud as well as a list of at-risk species developed using these principles. This action is one of several steps federal agencies are taking domestically and internationally as part of a comprehensive framework of integrated programs to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

The principles are as follows: (1) the existence and effectiveness of enforcement capability of the U.S. and other countries, (2) the existence of a catch documentation scheme throughout the geographic range of fishing activity for a species and the effectiveness of that scheme if it exists, (3) the transparency of chain-of-custody for a species as well as the complexity of the supply chain and the extent of processing, (4) the history of known misrepresentation of a species related to substitution with another species, (5) the history of known misrepresentation of information other than mislabeling related to species identification, (6) the history of violations of fisheries laws and regulations in the U.S. and abroad for a species, particularly those related to IUU fishing, and (7) the history of mislabeling, other forms of misrepresentation or species substitution leading to human health concerns for consumers.

Using these principles, NMFS has developed the following list of species for which the current risks of IUU fishing or seafood fraud warrant prioritization for the first phase of a traceability program: abalone, Atlantic cod, blue crab, dolphinfish (mahi mahi), grouper, king crab, Pacific cod, red snapper, sea cucumber, sharks, shrimp, swordfish and tunas (albacore, bigeye, bluefin, skipjack, yellowfin). Toothfish and catfish were identified as having a number of risk factors but are not being listed as at-risk species due to mechanisms to address those risks.

NMFS states that the traceability program will be developed through notice-and-comment rulemaking that will address data requirements and program design. Implementation and enforcement of this program may require the engagement of additional federal agencies.


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