NOAA report accuses seven nations, including China and Taiwan, of supporting illegal fishing

NOAA releases new IUU report

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a report identifying several nations it alleges are engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing or that have not done enough to liminate the use of forced labor within their domestic fleets.

Angola, Grenada, Mexico, China, Taiwan, The Gambia, and Vanuatu were all alleged to have participated in IUU fishing in 2020, 2021 and 2022, according to the report. Mexico, China, and Russia were given negative certifications for failing to remedy IUU fishing activities, which could lead to the U.S. denying those nations’ access to American ports and waters or import bans.

In addition, China and Taiwan were singled out for the use of forced labor in seafood-related production in both countries.

“IUU fishing and other unsustainable fishing practices undermine U.S. and global efforts to sustainably manage fisheries and conserve marine resources,” NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit said. “Combating these practices is a top priority of the United States, and we’ll work with each identified nation and entity to remedy these activities and strengthen their fisheries management and enforcement practices.”

The U.S. government will now begin a two-year process to assess whether the identified nations are taking actions to address the issues. Corrective actions will result in positive certification from the U.S., while failure to act will lead to a negative certification, according to Coit.

Costa Rica, Guyana, Senegal, and Taiwan were given positive certifications for taking action to remedy IUU fishing activities identified in 2021. About half of the 29 nations alleged to have protected living marine resource bycatch have taken actions to fix the situation, NOAA said.

“NOAA Fisheries is committed to working with nations and entities to address these activities by encouraging implementation of effective fisheries management and enforcement practices globally,” NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce Director Alexa Cole said. “These collaborative efforts help to ensure that the fish and fish products we import are sustainably and legally caught.”

For the first time, the report also identifies two nations NOAA Fisheries alleges target or catch sharks incidentally without a sustainable regulatory framework – China and Vanuatu.

“Effective management of shark catch – both targeted and incidental – is critical for shark conservation,” NOAA said in a statement. “Nations and entities that do not have regulatory programs to effectively manage shark catch or to reduce or mitigate bycatch threaten the sustainability of shared ecosystems and living marine resources.”

Nonprofit ocean conservation group Oceana praised the report and the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden’s efforts to combat IUU fishing.

“The report outlines there is still work to be done, but we are encouraged by NOAA’s action to ensure that fishing vessels uphold the law,” Oceana Vice President for the United States Beth Lowell said. “All seafood sold in the U.S. should be safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced, and honestly labeled. NOAA taking action against countries that fail to follow the rules is one essential tool in the U.S. government toolbox to improve fisheries around the world.”

Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries


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