Proposed revisions to the Marine Mammal Protection Act aimed at reducing marine mammal incidental mortality could impact imports of seafood to the United States.
Under the proposed rule, harvesting nations must apply for and receive a comparability finding for each fishery identified by the assistant administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service in the List of Foreign Fisheries in order to import fish and fish products into the United States.
The proposed rule establishes procedures that a harvesting nation must follow, and conditions to meet, to receive a comparability finding for a fishery. The proposed rule also establishes procedures for intermediary nations to certify that exports from those nations to the US do not contain fish or fish products subject to an import prohibition.
The US Ocean Commission states in its 200 report that the “biggest threat to marine mammals worldwide is their accidental capture or entanglement in fishing gear (bycatch), which kills hundreds of thousands of them each year.”
The Marine Mammal Protection Act contains provisions to address the incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in both domestic and foreign commercial fisheries. With respect to foreign fisheries, section 101 (a)(2) of the legislation states that the Secretary of the Treasury shall ban the importation of commercial fish or products from fish which have been caught with commercial fishing technology which results in the incidental kill or incidental serious injury of ocean mammals in excess of United States standards.
NOAA is accepting written comments on the proposed rule through Nov. 9, and is also seeking input from other nations at bilateral and multilateral meetings.
Comment electronically via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2010-0098, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields and enter or attach your comments.