Three U.S. House of Representatives members are calling on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to expand and update the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), and are advocating as well for SIMP expansion to all species.
Rep. Jared Huffman, ranking member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Resource Ranking Member Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Jimmy Panetta, also of California, led a letter to NOAA commenting on what they see as shortcomings of recent NOAA proposed rulemaking on SIMP. Other signers of the letter included representatives from California, Texas, North Carolina and Hawaii.
The March 27 letter said that as the world’s largest seafood-importing country that the United States has the purchasing power and the responsibility to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries, and human rights abuses in the fishing industry.
“The limited scope of the current proposed rule may prevent NOAA from addressing several key outstanding issues,” their letter said in part. “A supplemental proposed rule with a stronger interagency and public review process is a step in the right direction.”
SIMP currently only requires catch documentation and traceability for some 45% of seafood imports.
The proposed expansion would only increase SIMP’s coverage by 5% to 10%, leaving nearly half of seafood imports without sufficient import controls. The proposed rule also fails to form any kind of integrated approach to address forced labor along with IUU fishing, despite their close correlation, the letter said.
The proposed rule also demonstrates a clear lack of transparency both in the rulemaking process and in the lack of interagency coordination and review, while other agencies including the Department of Labor, U.S. Customs and the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force, should have been given opportunity to weigh in on this proposed rule, they said.
Huffman noted that supporters of the letter include Ocean Conservancy, Oceana and the Natural Resources Defense Council.