NMFS announces SIMP to begin with "informed compliance" period
As new guidelines requiring U.S. seafood importers to maintain records for certain products are set to take effect next month, federal officials have announced they will allow companies to ease into the program at its outset.
On Monday, 18 December, officials with the National Marine Fisheries Service announced it would take an “informed compliance” approach when the Seafood Import Monitoring Program starts on 1 January. That means NMFS will not initially impede shipments whose records may be misconfigured or missing information at the time of entry.
The SIMP regulations were unveiled on 7 December, 2016. The program seeks to prevent illegally caught or counterfeit seafood from entering the American market by requiring companies to track their products from the time they were harvest to the time they reach U.S. ports.
SIMP regulations target such species as Atlantic cod, king and blue crab, red snapper, swordfish, and tuna. Regulation of shrimp and abalone shipments will be enacted at a later date.
According to the memo: “If submissions with SIMP data are rejected and cannot be resolved in a timely manner, they may be re-filed under the same entry without the SIMP data message set and will be released with a ‘PGA DATA MSNG FOR HTS – NO ACTION REQD’ warning for the SIMP program as long as all requirements for other (non-SIMP) NMFS programs and those required for other agency programs are correct.”
For the past year, NMFS officials have worked with the seafood industry to make sure they understood the regulations and what they needed to do to file their reports. While the memo did not give a timeframe for when the informed compliance period will end, officials said they plan to transition from it as soon as possible.
“Filers are strongly encouraged to aggressively assure that they are in compliance immediately,” the memo stated.