The Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud this week released its action plan outlining the steps federal agencies will take both domestically and internationally to implement recommendations made last year. The plan identifies actions that will strengthen enforcement, create and expand partnerships with state and local governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations, and create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into U.S. commerce.
The plan also highlights ways in which the United States will work with foreign partners to strengthen international governance, enhance cooperation, and build capacity to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud. This includes the Administration’s work to secure historic and enforceable environmental provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade agreement that includes countries that together account for approximately one-quarter of global marine catch and global seafood exports.
In a blog article, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said: “As this week’s action plan recognizes, we can use trade policy to make a difference. Importantly, we are within striking distance of reaching an agreement with 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, that, when completed, will provide groundbreaking new tools to protect our oceans. The TPP countries include eight of the top 20 fishing nations, and together account for a quarter of global marine catch and seafood exports. This presents an historic opportunity to set in place critical rules to promote sustainable fisheries management, and to address some of the most environmentally damaging practices.”
Release of the report coincides with a joint letter to President Obama from World Animal Protection, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and The Nature Conservancy, praising the environment chapter of the TPP as “headed in the right direction” and the USTR for setting “ambitious goals for environmental standards within the agreement.”
The influential Sierra Club however remains steadfast in its opposition to the 12-nation Pacific trade deal, and also issued a statement following release of the report alleging that “TPP would empower corporations to attack environmental safeguards in private trade courts and would threaten the ability of our government to protect our air, water, and climate.” The group reiterated that its 2.4 million members and supporters, along with “more than 40 environmental organizations” strongly oppose fast-tracking of the TPP.
The National Fisheries Institute indicated its support for many of the recommendations in the plan but stated that questions remain about the execution, duplication of existing government efforts and funding. “It is essential that NOAA resources continue to focus on the science-based decision-making that is the basis of sound US fisheries management. Diverting resources from stock assessments to fund programs that duplicate other agencies responsibilities would be a mistake,” said John Connelly, President, NFI.