NOAA Fisheries: More Than Half of Seafood Import Entry Filings Noncompliant

A new NOAA Fisheries report to Congress on combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing finds that about 56% of audited import entry filings are noncompliant, mostly for incomplete chain of custody and misreporting of harvest weight.

The volume and value of seafood species subject to the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) during fiscal year 2023 included over 1.7 billion pounds of seafood with a combined value of more than $6.4 billion in U.S. dollars.

NOAA announced delivery of the report on May 31.

The SIMP imports represented about 32% by volume and 30% by value of all seafood imports into the United States last year. The decrease in imports subject to SIMP reporting requirements is reflective of the overall decline in imports observed over the past fiscal year, the agency said. 

From fiscal year 2022 to 2023, total seafood imports to the U.S. declined from 10.6 billion pounds worth about $25 billion to 5.3 billion pounds worth $22 billion, the report said.

While the quantities of imported seafood products overall and within SIMP’s purview have nearly halved, the value of these imports has nearly doubled, with shrimp and tuna continuing to constitute about 75% of the quantity and value of SIMP products.

Shrimp imports for that year included 555.8 million pounds valued at $2.3 billion, while tuna imports of 792.2 million pounds were valued at $2.4 billion.

Red king crab imports subject to SIMP totaled 1.2 million pounds, valued at nearly $23 million, while combined Atlantic and Pacific cod imports of over 171 million pounds were valued at $798 million.

The report noted that during fiscal 2023, NOAA refused two shipments of wild shrimp each from China and Vietnam based on commercial fishing technology that may adversely affect protected sea turtles.

NOAA also seized nearly 10 tons of produce imported in violation of SIMP and other federal fishery regulations, including abalone from South Africa, shrimp from Senegal, Mexico and unknown origin, and shark meat of unknown origin.

Also during fiscal 2023, NOAA initiated several ongoing criminal and civil investigations into violation of other federal laws and regulations, including the Lacey Act, Endangered Species Act and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora.

The investigations involve seafood products allegedly produced by forced labor, falsely labeled seafood, document fraud and financial crimes. NOAA said it would report the outcomes of the ongoing investigations in future reports to Congress.