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Presidential Task Force Issues Recommendations to Level Playing Field for U.S. Fishermen

Seafood on ice

Earlier today, the U.S. government took additional steps to level the playing field for legitimate U.S. fishermen, and ensure the vitality of marine fish stocks. The Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud, co-chaired by the Departments of State and Commerce, released 15 recommendations to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud and increase consumer confidence in the sustainability of seafood sold in the U.S. 

The recommendations released today include:

  • International: Work with international governments, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, and others to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud at the international level.
  • Enforcement: Strengthen enforcement tools to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.
  • Partnerships: Create and expand partnerships with U.S. state and local governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations to identify and eliminate seafood fraud and IUU seafood in U.S. commerce.
  • Traceability: Create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into the U.S. market to prevent entry of illegal product into the supply chain and better inform retailers and consumers. 

The United States is a global leader on sustainable seafood, and the seafood industry is an incredibly important sector in our nation’s economy.  According to the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  in 2013, U.S. fishermen landed 9.9 billion pounds of fish and shellfish worth $5.5 billion.    

IUU fishing poses a direct threat to food security and socio-economic stability in many parts of the world.  In fact, global losses from IUU fishing are an estimated $10-$23 billion annually, undermining economic opportunities for U.S. fishermen and others engaged in legal fishing and fueling trafficking operations.

While the U.S. has made strides in combating IUU fishing and seafood fraud, unfortunately, IUU fishing continues to undermine economic and environmentally sustainability in the U.S. and around the world.

The recommendations, which build on current successes, will be available for public review and comment for 30 days. Specifically, the Task Force is requesting comment on how to implement these recommendations.  Based on comments received, the Task Force will develop an action plan for these recommendations to be released in early 2015.

The Task Force’s recommendations support NOAA’s strategic goals of strengthening capabilities to assess and monitor fish and protected resources, improve recovery of listed species through innovative partnerships, and enhance place-based conservation. Effective policy and management of human activities, based on strong science, partnerships, and technology, are essential to sustaining healthy oceans, habitats, ecosystems, and coastal communities. The Commerce Department has strong legislative mandates and an important stewardship role in sustaining marine fisheries and ecosystems and limiting the consequences of human impacts.

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