Actions proposed to combat illegal fishing, forced labor in seafood supply chain

Changes will boost existing efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity

A school of Pacific skipjack tuna in bright blue water with sunlight streaming through.
A school of Pacific skipjack tuna. (istock)

Today, NOAA proposed new measures to strengthen its ability to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities and counter forced labor in the seafood supply chain. As a global leader in combating IUU fishing, NOAA employs a suite of tools to deter these activities where they may occur. The proposed changes are part of a rulemaking process that is open for public comment.

NOAA’s proposal broadens the scope of activities that can be considered under the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act when identifying nations for IUU fishing, including pervasive and persistent fishing activities in waters under the jurisdiction of a nation, without authorization or in violation of that nation’s laws. In addition, fishing activities in waters beyond any national jurisdiction that involve the use of forced labor may be considered by NOAA in identifying nations for IUU fishing under the Act. 

“IUU fishing undermines sustainable fisheries and healthy ocean ecosystems, threatens economic security and natural resources critical to global food security, and puts law-abiding fishers and seafood producers in the U.S. and abroad at a disadvantage,” said Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, acting assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “NOAA is committed to strengthening the suite of tools we use to combat all forms of IUU fishing and counter the use of forced labor in the seafood supply chain.”

Working with interagency partners, NOAA also seeks to expand the information foreign fishing vessels must submit when requesting entry into U.S. ports in order to fully implement the Port State Measures Agreement. The proposed rule enables a risk assessment of incoming vessels to determine if they have engaged in IUU fishing activities as defined under the Agreement, and to decide whether to deny a vessel entry to port. 

“The efforts to combat IUU fishing activities and counter forced labor are complex and a broad range of governments and management organizations are involved,” said Kelly Kryc, deputy assistant secretary for International Fisheries, NOAA. “As a major consumer, producer, and importer of seafood, the U.S. takes many steps to combat IUU fishing as a flag state, port state, market state, and in partnership with other agencies and countries around the world.” 

NOAA co-leads the U.S. Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing under the Maritime SAFE Act, which supports a whole-of-government approach utilizing a range of regulatory and technological tools, to counter IUU fishing and related threats to maritime security, enabling federal agencies to focus their efforts and leverage interagency coordination to maximize impact.

IUU fishing encompasses a wide variety of fishing-related activities, occurring at points along the global seafood supply chain, which may violate both national laws or responsibilities under international instruments. Learn more about NOAA’s ongoing and robust efforts to combat IUU fishing and counter forced labor. 

 

Media Contact

Lauren Gaches, nmfs.pa@noaa.gov, (202) 740-8314