January 22, 2018

Presidential Task Force Against Seafood Fraud

Today, a task force created by President Obama released a set of strong recommendations to stop seafood fraud and illegal fishing. Oceana applauds this move, stating that this is a “real step forward in fighting illegal fishing and seafood fraud in the U.S. and around the world. The task force reaffirms the president’s commitment to stop these crimes that provide profits to pirate fishermen, rip off consumers, and hinder ocean conservation.”┬áThe task force was established in June 2014. Agencies were told to work together for six months to develop the recommendations.

Seafood Assortment

Oceana also says that to protect consumers, the link between U.S. dollars and pirate fishing must be broken. The task now is to make sure these measures are implemented. Boat-to-plate traceability is necessary to make sure that the seafood sold in this country is safe, legally caught, and correctly labeled.

A study published in September 2014 found that between 20% and 32% of wild-caught seafood imported into this country comes from pirate fishing. This type of fishing uses destructive gear that is banned and catches threatened and endangered species. Pirate fishing costs billions of dollars every year and destroys marine ecosystems. Fraud and mislabeling happens everywhere in the supply chain, from the boat to the processor to shippers to stores.

The U.S. is a leader in sustainable seafood, ending overfishing in federally managed waters. Overfished stocks have been rebuilt. But illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing does occur in waters around the country and around the world. Fish and seafood products are among the most widely traded commodities in the world, with the chain of custody sometimes murky.

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