NOAA to work with six identified nations to address IUU fishing

14 Jan 2011

NOAA has submitted a report to Congress identifying six nations – Colombia, Ecuador, Italy, Panama, Portugal, and Venezuela – whose fishing vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2009 and/or 2010.

This opens the way for continued consultations between the US government and each of the nations to encourage them to take action to stop IUU fishing by their vessels.

In this report, NOAA also announces that the six previously identified nations (China, France, Italy, Libya, Panama, and Tunisia) have addressed the instances of illegal fishing described by the United States in the 2009 report to Congress. These nations applied penalties to the vessels in question or adopted laws to strengthen control of their fishing fleets or both. Each has received a positive certification as a result of their actions.

The nations identified in the most recent report had fishing vessels that did not comply with measures agreed to under various international fishery management organisations, such as closed fishing seasons, vessel registry lists, and a ban on the use of driftnets. Other violations included illegal gear modifications, fishing without authorisation, and possession of undersized bluefin tuna.

While Italy and Panama took corrective actions for illegal fishing identified in the 2009 report, other vessels from these countries still engaged in IUU fishing, which included illegal use of driftnets and fishing in an area when it was closed to purse seine nets.

If a nation fails to take appropriate action to address the instances of illegal fishing described in the report, that nation’s vessels may be denied entry into US ports and the President may prohibit imports of certain fish products from that nation or take other measures.

This identification of countries will be followed by consultations to urge these nations to adopt effective measures to combat IUU fishing. Following consultations, NOAA will formally certify whether each of the six nations have addressed the IUU fishing activities of their vessels.

Annual global economic losses due to IUU fishing are estimated to be as high as $23 billion.

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