U.S. House Looks at IUU Fishing, Shark Finning


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
April 15, 2008

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans today will hear testimony about efforts to curb both illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the global shark catch.

In testimony submitted at the hearing, Stetson Tinkham, director of international affairs for the National Fisheries Institute in McLean, Va., said U.S. fishermen and processors are subject to many regulations they're working to comply with. But, he added, foreign competitors are often not subject to the same regulations.

"When the playing field is not level our product becomes less competitive, both in the domestic market and in markets abroad," said Tinkham. "It's important to ask when putting new regulations in place: Can U.S. product caught under these rules compete with foreign product? Our fisheries continue to be a model of legal management and sustainability; let's not accidentally punish them."

The subcommittee will also hear testimony about efforts to shrink the worldwide shark harvest and stop finning. The United States already has some of the world's toughest shark-finning laws, according to NFI, but a bill now before the subcommittee would allow U.S. authorities to take action against countries with less stringent regulations and potentially ban imports of shark products.

"While finning is an abhorrent practice, NFI is concerned that the bill, as drafted, could unintentionally prevent trade in legally caught sharks," said Tinkham. "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should be consulted before any rules are made to ensure fisheries that are doing a good job are not impacted."

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