Background

The Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service has made findings that will allow imports of fish and fish products from two fisheries in New Zealand during the period Nov. 6, 2020, through Jan. 1, 2023.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act and NMFS regulations ban the importation of commercial fish or products from fish that have been caught with commercial fishing technology that results in the incidental kill or serious injury of ocean mammals in excess of U.S. standards. Effective Jan. 1, 2023, fish and fish products from fisheries identified by the NMFS in a list of foreign fisheries can only be imported if the harvesting nation has applied for and received a comparability finding for those fisheries.

Although there is a five-year exemption period (ending Jan. 1, 2023) before imports will be subject to any trade restrictions, NMFS notes that there is nothing in the regulations that prevents an exporting nation from implementing a bycatch reduction regulatory program and seeking a comparability finding during the exemption period.

Following such a request from New Zealand, NMFS has determined that the West Coast North Island multispecies set net and trawl fisheries have met the MMPA’s requirements to receive comparability findings.

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