Biden Administration Urged to Send Clear Message Opposing IUU Fishing, Forced Labor

(Left) Rep. Jared Huffman, D-CA. (Right) Rep. Garret Graves, R-LA. Photos via U.S. House of Representatives.

In advance of the U.N. Ocean Conference and in recognition of World Oceans Month, Congressmen Jared Huffman, D-CA and Garret Graves, R-LA, are calling on the Biden Administration to make clear that the U.S. is addressing illegal fishing and forced labor issues.

Both congressmen are strong advocates for combatting IUU fishing, which impacts the health of oceans, human rights and the competitiveness of American fisheries.

Earlier this year, major parts of Huffman’s bill with Graves, “The Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act,” passed the House as part of the America COMPETES Act. The bill aims to combat IUU fishing and human rights abuses in the seafood supply chain and make America more competitive in the global seafood market.

In March, a bipartisan amendment led by the congressmen, to give the Coast Guard greater capabilities in combatting IUU fishing, passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022.

Huffman and Graves said in their letter to the Biden Administration that the U.S. “cannot continue to allow countries such as China and Russia to undercut our honest fishers by abusing our oceans and fellow human beings. Your administration has the opportunity to make a strong statement on IUU ahead of the U.N. Ocean Conference—and we hope that you will.”

The congressmen noted that up to a third of annual global seafood harvests — as much as 56 billion pounds — is estimated to be a product of IUU fishing.

A  report by the U.S. International Trade Commission found nearly 11% of total U.S. seafood imports in 2019, worth $2.4 billion, were products of illegal or unreported fishing. The report also estimated that if IUU imports were prevented, U.S. fishers could increase their income by an estimated $60.8 million.