Marine Conservation Institute Praises IUU Task Force Action Plan and Challenges Congress to Respond with Bipartisan Legislation

After Nine Months of Study, Presidential Commission Makes Detailed Recommendations and Calls for Congressional Action on Enforcement and Treaty

Marine Conservation Institute, a leader in protecting marine biodiversity, praises the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of State and the twelve other federal agencies that form the Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud for releasing their final Action Plan for reducing the imports of IUU seafood. The worldwide trade of IUU seafood is estimated at up to $23 billion per year, and estimated US imports of IUU seafood are approximately $2 billion per year (or one-fifth of all imported wild seafood eaten in the US).

The magnitude of illegal seafood imports has a tangible impact on US fishermen, employment in US fishing and related industries, and on fishing communities. It is among the primary reasons President Obama, federal agencies and fishermen want this international crime eliminated. Legislation combatting IUU seafood has been introduced repeatedly into prior Congresses, but never passed.

Michael Gravitz, director of policy and legislation at the Marine Conservation Institute, said, “If you care about stopping illegal seafood from entering the US, if you care about strengthening US fishermen and their communities, the administration’s Action Plan on IUU fish is an important milestone. Now it’s time for Congress to do its part by passing bipartisan legislation ¾the Port States Agreement and other measures ¾ that helps stop IUU seafood before it reaches our docks.”

Bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Don Young, (R) from Alaska, and Jared Huffman, (D) from California, among others, would implement the Task Force’s recommendations on enforcement.

Gravitz continued, “Supporters for action against illegal fishing span the entire ideological spectrum because they all know that IUU imports are hurting law abiding US fishermen.”

Internationally, IUU fishing also damages foreign fish populations, destroys habitat, results in hunger in coastal areas (often in poor developing countries, such as regions in West Africa that depend on fish for daily protein) and causes instability in those countries. It is not only an environmental crime, but a serious food security problem. And detailed documentation of IUU fishing reveals that it is sometimes done in concert with drug and arms trafficking.

“We hope this Action Plan serves as a wake-up call to Congress.  US fishermen need to ask their representatives for legislative action on this international crime. It affects their livelihoods so directly. They’ve obeyed the fishing constraints of the US’s strong fisheries laws (the Magnuson-Stevens Act), while IUU fishermen around the world have been draining foreign coasts and high seas areas. It’s time to level the playing field for the US team,” said Gravitz.

About Marine Conservation Institute 

Marine Conservation Institute is a team of highly-experienced marine scientists and environmental-policy advocates dedicated to saving ocean life for us and future generations. The organization’s overarching goal is to help the world create an urgently-needed worldwide system of strongly protected areas—the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES)—a strategic, cost-effective way to ensure future diversity and abundance of marine life. Founded in 1996, Marine Conservation Institute is a US-based nonprofit organization with offices in Seattle, near San Francisco and in Washington DC. For more information, please go to: http://www.marine-conservation.org

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For more information, media and bloggers only, please contact:

Michael Gravitz, Director of Policy and Legislation, Marine Conservation Institute

email: Michael.Gravitz@marine-conservation.org

office: 202-546-5346

mobile: 301-351-5052

Gaby Adam, By the Sea Communications

email: gaby@bytheseacommunications.com

mobile: 206-931-5942

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