Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

The USA takes action against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

The President of the USA, Barack Obama, has this month taken action to establish a Presidential Task Force to combat “Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud” by way of a Presidential Memorandum (click here)

IUU fishing results in the uncontrolled and unmonitored bycatch of ACAP-listed and other species of seabirds in those parts of the World’s oceans where they occur.

The memorandum states:

“The United States is a global leader in sustainable seafood.  Over the course of the last 6 years, the United States has largely ended overfishing in federally managed waters and successfully rebuilt a record number of stocks depleted by the excesses of the past.  At the same time, effective domestic management and enforcement of fishing regulations have supported near record highs in both landings and revenue for our domestic fishing industry.  As a result, the U.S. management scheme is recognized internationally as a model for other countries as they work to end overfishing.

Nevertheless, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (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 $10-23 billion annually, weakening profitability for legally caught seafood, fueling illegal trafficking operations, and undermining economic opportunity for legitimate fishermen in the United States and around the world.

It is in the national interest of the United States to promote a framework that supports sustainable fishing practices and combats seafood fraud and the sale of IUU fishing products.  To achieve these objectives, the United States will need to enhance the tools it has available to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud, including by implementing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing; strengthening coordination and implementation of existing authorities to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud; working with the Congress to strengthen and harmonize the enforcement provisions of U.S. statutes for implementing international fisheries agreements; and working with industry and foreign partners to develop and implement new and existing measures, such as voluntary, or other, traceability programs, that can combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud, and ensure accurate labeling for consumers.”

A trawler trails twin bird-scaring lines, painting by Bruce Pearson

The memorandum establishes a Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud to be co-chaired by the Secretaries of State and Commerce, or their designees.  The Task Force is to report to the President with recommendations for the implementation of a comprehensive framework of integrated programmes to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud within 180 days.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 June 2014

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