Today, President Obama’s Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud delivered its first recommendations for tackling this issue, which included domestic and international measures to help ensure that seafood sold in the United States is safe, legally caught, and honestly labeled. Oceana commends the recommendations and says they are a real step forward for fighting illegal fishing and seafood fraud in the U.S. and around the world.
- Authorities are concerned that oil from a two-mile long oil slick in New Jersey’s Sandy Hook Bay could threaten an endangered population of seals that migrate through the area each winter. Officials are still investigating the cause of the spill. NBC
- Scientists have found that humpback whales in the Arabian Sea are the most genetically distinct in the world. The scientists say they have remained isolated from other populations for 70,000 years—a trait that’s quite rare for animals that embark on such long migrations. Discovery News
- Environmental groups on St. Lucia say they are growing “increasingly concerned” over illegal harvesting of sea urchins—especially young sea urchins that don’t have a chance to reproduce. Fishery managers closed the fishery and warned that anyone caught illegally harvesting could risk legal penalties. Jamaica Observer
- The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has put new fishing regulations in place for striped bass. Amid population declines, the Commission imposed a 25 percent catch rate reduction for 2015, and recreational fishermen can only catch one fish. Providence Journal
South Korea, Ghana, and Curaçao must now act quickly to combat illegal fishing, as the European Commission granted these three countries only six more months to improve efforts to stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in their waters.
Earlier this month, Oceana in Europe and Corriere della Sera, an Italian newspaper, embarked on a behind-the-scenes mission to uncover illegal fishing in the Port of Bagnara in southwest Italy. During an overnight mission, the team documented illegally caught swordfish from drift gillnets entering the Port. This isn’t the first undercover mission from Oceana—earlier this summer we uncovered drift gillnets in Morocco. Read below for a behind-the-scenes look at this mission, and click here for more background information.
Earlier this month, Oceana in Europe and Italian journalist Sabrina Giannini gathered evidence of Italian fishermen using illegal drift gillnets in the swordfish fishery at the Port of Bagnara Calabra in southern Italy. Despite a 2002 ban by the European Union on this destructive fishing gear—and even with the Italian government providing high subsidies for other fishing techniques—Italy continues to use this illegal gear.
I wrote to you a few short weeks ago about our tremendous victory in Oceana’s campaign to stop seafood fraud — at the U.S. State Department’s Our Ocean conference, President Obama committed to tackling seafood fraud and pirate fishing. As realistic as I often am about these conferences, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcomes of Our Ocean.
Last week was big for our oceans. Following a two-day summit at the State Department that brought together world leaders, NGO representatives, marine scientists, and other stakeholders to address key ocean issues, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced important new initiatives to protect our oceans from a number of serious threats. In particular, he announced a new effort to fight seafood fraud and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing that will include establishing full-chain traceability for seafood sold in the U.S.