The Department of Commerce is accepting comments through March 28 on a proposed rule that would expand and make various changes to the Seafood Import Monitoring Program.

The SIMP is a risk-based traceability program meant to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and seafood fraud. It sets forth permitting, reporting, and recordkeeping procedures relating to the entry into U.S. commerce of certain fish and fish products identified as being at particular risk for these activities.

SIMP requirements have been in effect for the following 13 species and species groups since Dec. 31, 2018: abalone, Atlantic cod, Pacific cod, Atlantic blue crab, red king crab, dolphinfish, grouper, sea cucumber, northern red snapper, shark, shrimp, swordfish, and tuna (albacore, Atlantic bluefin, bigeye, Pacific bluefin, southern bluefin, skipjack, and yellowfin).

NMFS is now proposing to expand the SIMP to (1) cover all species of snapper, (2) add slender, bullet, frigate, spotted tunny, black skipjack, blackfin, longtail, bonito, escolar, and hamachi/yellowtail/amberjack tuna as well as other species marked as tuna, and (3) newly add cuttlefish and squid, octopus, eels, queen conch, and Caribbean spiny lobster to the scope of the program.

DOC is also proposing to make the following clarifications in the SIMP regulations.

- The importer of record on the customs entry filing and the holder of the international fisheries trade permit must be the same entity.

- Paper or electronic copies of all required chain of custody documentation, and all supporting records upon which an entry filing or export declaration is made, must be maintained by the importer of record or the exporting principal party in interest and made available for inspection at the importer's/exporter's place of business for two years from the date of the import, export, or re-export upon request.

- Product coming into the Pacific Insular Area would be subject to all SIMP requirements except those requiring ACE filing, and all requirements would apply when product is moved from the PIA to any place within the U.S. customs territory.

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