FISH Act Legislation Would Blacklist Vessels, Owners Guilty of IUU Offenses

Left: Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. Photo: U.S. Senate. Right: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. Photo: U.S. Senate.

Federal legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate would blacklist vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing from entering U.S. ports and waters.

The Fighting Foreign Illegal Seafood Harvest (FISH) Act would bolster U.S. Coast Guard enforcement capabilities and advance international and bilateral negotiations to reach enforceable agreements and treaties, according to Senators Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who introduced the bill on Aug. 25.

The FISH Act would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish a blacklist of foreign vessels and owners who have engaged in IUU fishing, direct the Coast Guard to boost its at-sea inspection of foreign vessels suspected of IUU fishing, and coordinate with regional fishery management organizations to determine if a vessel’s flag state is taking corrective action.

The legislation would also direct the administration to report to Congress on how new technologies can aid in battling IUU fishing, the complexities of the seafood trade relationship between Russia and China, and the success of prosecutions against IUU fishermen operating in U.S. waters.

Sullivan described the bill as “an all-hands-on-deck effort to crack down on IUU fishing for the sake of our fish, our, environment and our coastal communities.”

“We have to root out this practice to protect our hardworking fishing industry and ocean economy,” Whitehouse added.