NOAA working with nations to address IUU fishing

15 Jan 2013
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Rush escorts the suspected high seas drift net fishing vessel Da Cheng in the North Pacific Ocean on 14 August 2012. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Rush escorts the suspected high seas drift net fishing vessel Da Cheng in the North Pacific Ocean on 14 August 2012. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

NOAA has submitted a Congressionally mandated report identifying 10 nations whose fishing vessels engaged in IUU fishing in 2011 or 2012, or had ineffective measures to prevent the unintended catch of protected species in 2012.

Independent experts have estimated economic losses worldwide from IUU fishing to be between $10 billion and $23 billion annually.

“NOAA’s international fisheries work is critical to the economic viability of US fishing communities and the protection of US jobs,” said Russell Smith, NOAA deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries. “This is about levelling the playing field for fishermen around the world, and IUU fishing represents one of the biggest threats to the US fishing industry. Seafood is a global business, and US fishermen following the rules should not have to compete with those using illegal or unsustainable fishing practices.”

The US will soon start consultations with each of the 10 nations — Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Tanzania, and Venezuela — to encourage them to take action to address IUU fishing and bycatch by their fishermen.

All 10 nations identified in this year’s report had vessels that did not comply in 2011 and/or 2012 with conservation and management measures required under a regional fishery management organisation to which the United States is a party. Mexico was also identified for ineffective management of the bycatch of North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles, which travel between Japan and Mexico through Hawaiian waters, and are endangered under the US Endangered Species Act.

“As one of the largest importers of seafood in the world, the United States has a global responsibility and an economic duty to ensure the fish we import is caught sustainably and legally,” said Sam Rauch, deputy assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “We look forward to working with these nations to encourage their compliance, and we will continue to work with our partners to detect and combat illegal practices.”

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