NOAA Calls Out Seven Nations for IUU Fishing

File image courtesy EJF

Published Sep 3, 2023 2:03 PM by The Maritime Executive

Last week, NOAA Fisheries (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released its regular report on international fisheries management, citing several nations for IUU fishing and bycatch of protected living marine resources. For the first time, the report also included forced labor and shark catch in its IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishing identifications.

The biennial report is part of the NOAA’s statutory requirement to the U.S Congress under the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act. Countries negatively certified for IUU fishing under the report could be denied U.S port privileges. The report also helps the U.S government to collaborate with identified countries in dealing with their problematic fisheries issues.

In this year’s report, seven nations were identified for IUU fishing and two nations for shark catch without having a regulatory program comparable to that of the U.S.  

Angola, Grenada, Mexico, China, Taiwan, The Gambia and Vanuatu were identified for reported or alleged IUU fishing that occurred between 2020 and 2022. China and Taiwan’s identifications also include allegations on seafood-related goods produced through forced labor.China and Vanuatu were also identified for shark catch despite lacking a proper regulatory program.

After each report is issued, NOAA Fisheries works with nations and entities for two years to address the activities for which they were identified. Afterwards, NOAA Fisheries issues a certification determination. A positive certification is issued if the nation or entity has provided evidence for actions that address the activities for which it was identified. If sufficient action is not taken, NOAA proceeds to give a negative certification.

The 2023 Report announced positive certifications for Costa Rica, Guyana, Senegal and Taiwan following IUU fishing identifications in 2021. Mexico, China and Russia received negative certifications following IUU fishing identifications in 2021.

IUU fishing remains a serious global problem that threatens ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries critical to global food and economic security.  As IUU fishing is a low-risk, high reward activity, especially on the high seas, it puts law abiding fishermen and seafood producers at a disadvantage.

IUU fishing has become so pervasive that a report by the International Trade Commission found that the U.S imported $2.4 billion worth of seafood derived from IUU fishing in 2019.

“The U.S. for the first time, is identifying countries in the report for both IUU fishing and forced labor. The report outlines there is still work to be done, but we are encouraged by NOAA’s action to ensure fishing vessels uphold the law,” commented Beth Lowell, Oceana’s Vice President for the U.S.