Task Force Takes Aim at IUU Fisheries and Seafood Fraud

A presidential task force on illegal, unreported and
unregulated fishing and seafood fraud is expected to make its recommendations
to the White House by year’s end.
The issue, noted the presidential memorandum creating the
task force, is that IUU fishing continues to undermine the economic and
environmental sustainability of fisheries and fish stocks, both in the United
States and around the world.
Global losses attributable to the black market from IUU
fishing are estimated to be $10 billion to $23 billion annually, weakening
profitability for legally caught seafood, fueling illegal trafficking
operations, and undermining economic opportunity for legitimate fishermen both
in the US and around the world.
Before the close of the comment period on Sept. 2, the task
force had received comments from 56 entities, including the Alaska Bering Sea
Crabbers, At-Sea Processors Association and North Pacific Anadromous Fish
“Our members are under no illusion that there is a single
‘silver bullet’ that will be able to fully address the issue of IUU fishing,
specifically in the context of illegal Russian crab and its penetration of the
US market,” wrote Mark Gleason, executive director of Alaska Bering Sea
Crabbers. ABSC has recommended strengthening country of origin labeling
requirements, increasing traceability throughout the supply chain, and passing
domestic legislation to fully implement the 2009 UN FAO Agreement on Port State
measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated
Stephanie Madsen, executive director of the At-Sea
Processors Association, recommended that NOAA Fisheries conduct a market
analysis to identify to what extent there is significant IUU Russian crab and
pollock catches and, if so, whether such products are being exported to the US.
If problems are revealed, targeted actions by the federal
government can be developed and implemented, Madsen said. The APA also urged
the task force to not subject the seafood industry to additional, unnecessary
catch verification and traceability regulations when there is no specific
information available to support the contention of some that IUU catches are
marketed in any significant way in the US, Madsen said.
The North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission has a 22-year
record of international cooperation in successfully reducing illegal fishing on
the high seas of the North Pacific, said Vladimir Radchenko, executive director
“International agreed instruments of law related to
international trade can be useful to deter IUU fishing,” he said. “Efforts to
deter IUU fishing are frustrated by a lack of transparency in major seafood
markets, and raising awareness and educating the general public is very
important for success in combating IUU fishing,” he said.
With the main objective of promoting the conservation of
anadromous stocks in the North Pacific Ocean, the NPAFC undertakes continuing
and increasing efforts to eliminate fishing for salmon and steelhead in the
North Pacific outside of national waters, Radchenko said.

Complete comments of the 56 responding individuals and
entities are online at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0090-0017