Congress urged to halt illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

A group of over 100 scientists and researchers is urging Congress to take immediate action to increase traceability of seafood imports and transparency at sea, to ensure that all seafood entering the U.S. is legally caught, responsibly sourced and honestly labeled.

The scientists said in a letter to Congress that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing threatens the sustainability of fisheries, the livelihoods of seafood harvesters internationally the well-being of thousands of workers in the industry. Only by thoroughly addressing these interrelated issues can we protect our oceans and the people dependent on them, they said.

Up to 85% of the fish consumed in the U.S. is imported, with up to 32% of wild-caught imports being products of illegal or unreported fishing. A report by the International Trade Commission found that the United States imported $2.4 billion worth of seafood derived from IUU fishing in 2019.

IUU fishing includes fishing without authorization, ignoring catch limits operating in closed areas, targeting protected wildlife and fishing with prohibited gear.