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NOAA identifies 10 countries that need to address illegal fishing

Alaska Dispatch

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) submitted a congressionally mandated report on Thursday identifying 10 nations that are home to independent parties engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in 2011 or 2012, or that failed to prevent the unintended catch of protected species.

According to a NOAA, the 10 nations cited in the mandate are Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Tanzania, and Venezuela.

The U.S. plans to begin consultations with each of the nations in order to encourage stricter regulations and preventative measures to reduce IUU fishing.

Such fishing, according to NOAA, "undermines international efforts to sustainably manage and rebuild fisheries and creates unfair market competition for fishermen who adhere to strict conservation measures, like those in the United States." In addition IUU fishing can disrupt and devastate fish populations and habitats, as well as threaten food security and economic stability.

Russell Smith, NOAA deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries, said, “This (mandate) is about leveling the playing field for fishermen around the world, and IUU fishing represents one of the biggest threats to the U.S. fishing industry. Seafood is a global business, and U.S. fishermen following the rules should not have to compete with those using illegal or unsustainable fishing practices.” 

Nations that fail to take the necessary preventative action to reduce IUU fishing by their respective fishing communities may face serious consequences. Countries that fail to adhere to the U.S. mandate "may be denied entry into U.S. ports" and may be prohibited from importing "certain fish or fish products from that nation into the United States."

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