Marine Conservation Institute Commends Successful Mark Up of the Pirate Fishing Bill (S. 1334) in Senate Commerce Committee

And Asks Both Houses of Congress to Quickly Pass This Bipartisan Legislation

Marine Conservation Institute, a leader in protecting marine biodiversity, applauds Senator Lisa Murkowski and a group of cosponsors for marking up S. 1334, a bill to strengthen enforcement mechanisms to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and implement several fishery treaties. With four diverse cosponsors, this bill has proved that important ocean problems like pirate fishing can draw bipartisan support. The House version of this legislation was marked up by the Natural Resources Committee three weeks ago on April 30th by unanimous consent with bipartisan support.

The US imports approximately $2 billion a year in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) seafood, which perpetuates destructive fishing practices around the world and damages the livelihoods of law abiding US fishermen. IUU imports undercut prices for US caught seafood and unfairly compete with seafood caught by US fishermen who have to live by the stringent requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act. US fishermen and their communities need a level playing field, especially to take advantage of the sacrifices they have made to make Magnuson-Stevens work.

Michael Gravitz, director of policy and legislation at Marine Conservation Institute said, “It’s time for Congress to do its part in combatting this international crime by passing bipartisan legislation that will stop illegal seafood before it reaches our docks, our stores and our plates.”

S. 1334, introduced by Senator Murkowski, R (AK) would implement an international treaty, the “Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing”, that makes it illegal to import any pirate seafood. The Port States Measures agreement gives US personnel additional tools to stop ships carrying IUU fish from landing the products. Passing S. 1334 to implement this ratified treaty would send a powerful message to other countries that the US, the second largest importer of seafood in the world, wants to lead on this issue. When 25 countries have signed (14 have now) the treaty will go into effect for all the signers. Depending on which countries sign the treaty, large markets will close to IUU seafood, severely reducing the economic incentive to fish illegally. Additionally, S. 1334 strengthens and streamlines the enforcement of several important international fishing agreements.

Gravitz continued, “Supporters of action against illegal fishing span the entire ideological spectrum because they all know that IUU imports are hurting law abiding US fishermen and their communities. We applaud this spirit of bipartisan resolve to fix big ocean problems.”

Internationally, IUU fishing also contributes to overfishing,  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.

Gravitz ended, “Fishermen and fishing groups from around the US –Alaska, Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and New England- have all weighed in to support this bill and an end to pirate seafood imports.”

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. 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

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