WASHINGTON – Today, the United States House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs held a hearing to discuss the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2013 (H.R. 69) and the Pirate Fishing Elimination Act, which aim to keep pirate fishers out of our ports and increase efforts to curb illegal fishing.
The hearing follows an Oceana report released last May, which found that illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing leads to seafood fraud and threatens fishing economies, seafood consumers and vulnerable marine species on a global scale. According to recent estimates, IUU fishing accounts for 20 percent of the global catch and contributes to economic losses of $10-23 billion annually, while also threatening 260 million jobs that depend on marine fisheries around the world.
Oceana also welcomed today’s hearing and released the following statement from campaign director Beth Lowell:
“Seafood mislabeling and fraud allow illegally caught fish to be laundered through the U.S. market. Modern-day pirates are exploiting the lack of regulation and weak enforcement of fisheries laws on the high seas and in many countries around the world.
Illegal fishing not only cheats seafood consumers, but it also hurts honest fishermen and seafood businesses that play by the rules.
These Acts would help keep pirate fishing vessels out of our ports, while doubling efforts to get them off the seas. Increased enforcement by the U.S. will also help to strengthen international cooperation in fighting illegal fishing worldwide.
However, this action alone isn’t enough to solve the whole problem. If we really want to stop illegal fishing, we need to close our markets to pirate fishers, thereby cutting off the financial incentive currently received for ignoring fisheries laws. We can help to stop illegal fishing by requiring that our seafood is tracked from boat to plate, ensuring that it’s safe, legally caught and honestly labeled. Knowing important things like what species it is, and where, when and how it was caught, will not only help to protect honest U.S. fishermen and seafood businesses, but also our wallets, health and oceans.”
Last year, Oceana released the results of a nationwide study, which found that 33 percent of the more than 1,200 seafood samples it tested were mislabeled, according to FDA guidelines.
For more information about Oceana’s campaign to Stop Seafood Fraud, please visit www.oceana.org/fraud.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.