Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, also known as “IUU fishing,” is one of the major threats to the health of our global oceans. The Nature Conservancy is committed to working around the world to support and implement meaningful commitments to combat IUU fishing and to support further action towards seafood sustainability worldwide.
This week, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) proposed a rule to establish the first phase of a seafood traceability program to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
We commend NOAA for the steps it is taking to combat illegal, unreported, unregulated and fraudulently labeled seafood entering the U.S. market.
The United States is major actor in the global seafood market and one of the largest importers of seafood products in the world. The U.S. decisive engagement in the fight against illegal fisheries is absolutely necessary.
A recent study found that 20-32% of seafood imported into the United States was likely from illegal, unreported and unregulated sources. This alone accounts for 4-16% of the value of the total illegal fish catch worldwide, which has an estimated value of $15-23 billion a year.
Traceability means that the United States will be able to verify that the seafood entering its market is what it says it is and that it was caught legally. An effective traceability program will deter market access of illegally harvested and misrepresented seafood into the U.S. market and divert illegal seafood to lower value markets, together reducing the incentive for illegal fishing operations and seafood fraud.
And legal fisheries stand to benefit from the exclusion of IUU fishing and seafood fraud through greater access to markets. Improved traceability will benefit American fishermen and seafood consumers, as well as healthy oceans around the world.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a problem that can be solved through leadership, action and international cooperation. We remain optimistic that others will continue to take the steps needed to end the scourge of rogue fishing and work together to regenerate ocean life globally.