The enforcement period has started for seafood traders to provide documentation for fish and fish products they wish to sell to American consumers.
As of January 1, importers must adhere to strict record-keeping requirements to prove seafood products entering the US are legally and sustainably caught, and truthfully represented.
Known as the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believes the ruling marks a significant step in the global effort to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud from entering US markets.
IUU fishing generally refers to fishing that violates national laws or international treaties intended to keep ocean animals and environments healthy.
Species identified as a priority under the ruling include Atlantic and Pacific cod, Blue crab (Atlantic), Dolphinfish (Mahi Mahi), Grouper, King crab (red), red snapper, sea cucumber, sharks, swordfish and tunas (Albacore, Bigeye, Skipjack, Yellowfin, and Bluefin). Abalone and shrimp will be added later.
Over the past year, NOAA Fisheries has worked with importers to bring their operations into compliance with the requirements.
This is the first-phase of a risk-based traceability program requiring the importer to provide and report key data from the point of harvest to the point of entry into US commerce.
The information collected includes the name and flag state of the vessel, evidence of the authorisation to fish (permit or licence number), type of fishing gear and unique vessel identifier.
It also tracks the species of fish, harvest date and location, quantity and weight of product, and the name of the entity where the fish was delivered.
Records are also required about the processing, re-processing, and commingling of product.