Judge backs move blocking shipments of UK-caught Chilean sea bass from entering US

Chilean sea bass for sale in a Kirkland market.

A U.S. federal judge has backed NOAA's decision to block two shipments of U.K.-caught Chilean sea bass from entering the U.S.

U.S. Court of International Trade Judge Timothy M. Reif has approved a request from Southern Cross Seafoods to transfer its lawsuit against the U.S. government and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, stating the court on which he serves does not have jurisdiction to decide whether the restrictions the Houston, Texas, U.S.A.-based importer faced in bringing U.K.-caught Chilean sea bass into the U.S. were legal.

Southern Cross received two shipments of Chilean sea bass caught by U.K. vessels off the coast of South Georgia Island  a U.K.-controlled island around 1,400 kilometers east of the Falkland Islands – in September 2022. The fish was caught via licenses issued by the U.K. government outside of catch limits set by the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) the regional fishery management organization that oversees the deep-sea fishery.

CCAMLR has been unable to set catch limits for Chilean sea bass – also known as Patagonian toothfish – in the waters it manages since Russia has rejected any consensus on the issue since 2021. The U.K. has responded by issuing its own licenses for 1,670 metric tons (MT) of toothfish, which is below the recommendation of CCAMLR scientists.

However, NMFS rejected Southern Cross Seafoods’ request for preapproval to import its toothfish on the basis that ...

Photo courtesy of The Image Party/Shutterstock

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