A new report compiled by the environmental entity Oceana calls for better monitoring to keep vast amounts of seafood caught illegally or through unreported and unregulated fisheries from being imported into the United States.
The illegal seafood trade, fueled in part by America’s huge appetite for seafood, resulted in the import of an estimated $2.4 billion worth of seafood derived from IUU fishing in 2019 alone, according to the report released on Tuesday, Feb. 1. The data demonstrates the need to expand traceability and transparency requirements for all seafood imports into the United States, the world’s largest seafood important country, the report said.
At issue is the fact that about 60% of imported seafood products are not covered by the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), which requires catch documentation and traceability requirements for some imports. The SIMP program currently applies to just 13 species and species groups at risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and seafood fraud.
While the federal government has taken steps to deal with IUU fisheries, more must be done to ensure that American dollars are not supporting such illicit activities at sea, the report said.
A copy of the complete report, “Loopholes Put Illegally Caught Seafood on Americans’ Plates,” is at tinyurl.com/oceanareport.