In a report released to Congress on Thursday, Aug. 12, NOAA asserts that 31 countries have been engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and bycatch of protected marine life.
The 2021 Biennial Report to Congress on Improving International Fisheries Management revealed that vessels from China, Costa Rica, Guyana, Mexico, Russia, Senegal and Taiwan were involved in IUU fishing from 2018-2020 and that a number of countries lacked a regulatory program as effective as the U.S.’s to curb bycatch in the fishing operations, according to NOAA.
The agency in particular pointed to ongoing IUU fishing in Mexico, which could result in consequences such as entry denial into U.S. ports and import restrictions on fish and fish goods.
NOAA flagged Mexico for IUU fishing activities in 2019 when the country failed to curb various small vessels illegally fishing in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
“Failure to remedy these incursions into U.S. waters led to Mexico’s negative certification,” the agency said.
“As one of the largest importers of seafood in the world, the United States has a global responsibility and an economic duty to ensure that the fish and fish products we import are caught sustainably and legally,” said Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, and acting assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator.
“IUU fishing undermines U.S. fishermen who operate under the strongest fishery management practices and conservation laws, and NOAA will use every tool to make sure all nations follow the same rules,” Coit said.