This month NOAA released the 2021 Biennial Report to Congress for illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing activities and bycatch of protected marine life on the high seas. In it, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reprimands several nations including the European Union for poor fishing regulation and says the worst offenders, starting with Mexican fishing vessels, will be denied entry into U.S. ports. Mexico could also face import restrictions on fish and fish products.
According to NOAA, IUU fishing is a serious global problem that threatens ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries that are critical to global food and economic security — putting law-abiding fishermen and seafood producers in the United States and abroad at a disadvantage.
“As one of the largest importers of seafood in the world, the US has a global responsibility and an economic duty to ensure that the fish and fish products we import are caught sustainably and legally,” said Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “IUU fishing undermines U.S. fishermen who operate under the strongest fishery management practices and conservation laws, and NOAA will use every tool to make sure other nations follow the same rules.”
The report reprimands China, Costa Rica, Guyana, Mexico, Russia, Senegal, and Taiwan as having vessels engaged in IUU fishing activities during 2018-2020.
Other countries including The European Union, France, Greece, Grenada, Italy, Japan, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey were rebuked for lacking a bycatch regulatory program comparable to the United States. Bycatch (unwanted catch and discards) can hurt protected marine life. Nations that do not have regulatory programs to effectively reduce or mitigate bycatch.
In contrast, Ecuador and the Republic of Korea received positive remarks for taking action to remedy the 2019 report findings.
NOAA issued this report to promote law enforcement capacity and best practices to combat IUU fishing and ensuring a fair market for the U.S. fishing industry.
Sign up for our newsletter