Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing not only threatens the sustainability of the seafood industry but also the safety and quality of seafood available to consumers. Recommendations issued in December by the Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud will, if implemented, take action on illegal fishing and make it a diplomatic priority.
Dawn M. Martin, president of SeaWeb, an organization that highlights science-based solutions to threats facing the world’s oceans, says that IUU fishing is “one of the biggest global threats to sustainable management of our world’s fisheries.” IUU fishing circumvents quality control of the resource. “You can’t trust the location of where the fish was caught, there is no way to document the way it was processed and managed in the supply chain, and you lose control over the correct identification of the species,” she says.
The transportation and movement of seafood to market is complex, Martin adds. With IUU fishing, “you don’t know how long the fish has been sitting on board one of these illegal vessels. You lose that ‘chain of custody,’ the ability to track the process to make sure it was being done correctly, following all the rules and regulations in regard to food handling and safety.”
Among the recommendations of the task force: strengthen enforcement and tools to combat IUU fishing; support legislation that would set standards for port inspections to prevent IUU seafood from entering commercial markets; pursue international commitments to eliminate fisheries subsidies that contribute to excess fishing capacity, overfishing, and IUU fishing by 2020; adjust tariff codes to enhance identification of illegal species or seafood fraud; establish a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into the U.S.; establish regular forums with the sustainable seafood community to identify and eliminate seafood fraud and IUU seafood.
The SeaWeb Seafood Summit in New Orleans will open with a workshop on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015 that will focus on traceability and IUU fishing.
Holliman is a veteran journalist with extensive experience covering a variety of industries. Reach her at [email protected].