NOAA Fisheries has released its 2017 Biennial Report to Congress on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) practices around the world. The report highlights US findings and analyses of foreign IUU fishing activities and of bycatch of protected species and shark catch on the high seas.
Ecuador, Mexico, and the Russian Federation were identified as having vessels reported to be engaged in IUU activity during 2014-2016. On behalf of the United States, NOAA Fisheries will consult with each nation to encourage action to address these activities and improve fisheries management and enforcement practices.
The 2017 report also notes that five of six nations identified for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the 2015 report, Columbia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Portugal, took action to address the identified issues and now have a positive certification. Mexico, while it continues to make meaningful progress, including increasing surveillance patrols, curtailing engine subsidies, and initiating enforcement cases against those individuals involved in the IUU fishing operations, has not yet fully resolved the enforcement cases, and has therefore been issued a negative certification. NOAA Fisheries will continue to consult with Mexico toward achieving positive certification.
No nations were identified for bycatch of protected living marine resources or for shark catch on the high seas in the 2017 report.
When NOAA Fisheries negatively certifies a nation, which means it has not taken sufficient action to address the IUU fishing activities that formed the basis for its original identification, that nation is subject to prohibitions on fisheries product imports into the United States and denial of port privileges for its fishing vessels.
According to the NOAA, IUU fishing not only undermines international efforts to sustainably manage and rebuild fisheries, it creates unfair market competition for fishermen playing by the rules.
The biennial report to congress is a congressionally mandated requirement of the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act, as amended by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorisation Act.