Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Chefs Call on Congress to End Illegal Fishing, Seafood Fraud, and Human Rights Abuses


A bunch of chefs and restaurant owners have signed a letter to the U.S. Congress demanding transparency and traceability in the U.S. seafood supply chain.

More than 200 chefs and restaurant owners are calling on lawmakers to address illegal fishing, seafood fraud, and human rights abuses in the seafood industry.

Specifically, the chefs are demanding increased traceability of seafood imports and transparency at sea to ensure that all seafood served in the United States is safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced, and honestly labeled.

The letter, which is signed by top chefs such as Dan Barber, Tom Colicchio, Bun Lai, Rick Moonen, Jacques Pepin, Virginia Willis, and includes 45 chefs from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force on sustainable seafood, outlines the need for Congress to require traceability for all seafood sold in the United States.

In the letter, the chefs write:

“We are a coalition of chefs that collectively serve seafood to millions of customers per year. We take pride in feeding our communities the highest-quality seafood that is not only delicious but also harvested ethically with minimal environmental cost. We are committed to serving dishes that are good for both people and the planet. Therefore, we call on Congress to crack down on illegal fishing and related forced labor abuses.”

Jacques Pepin, world-renowned chef and cooking show host, author, instructor and artist said:

“There should be no question from chefs or seafood eaters — seafood sold in the U.S. should be safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced, and honestly labeled, and the government must step up and make it so.”

While Tom Colicchio, celebrity chef and founder of Crafted Hospitality, said:

“When I serve seafood to my customers, I want them to be confident that it was caught legally and that everyone involved in its catch and production was treated humanely. Right now, that is all but impossible. It doesn’t have to be this way because the U.S. government can step up efforts to stop illegal fishing and require that seafood workers are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

This past May, Reps. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Garret Graves (R-La.) introduced the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act, a bill that would end illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, seafood fraud, and human rights abuses in the seafood industry while strengthening U.S. leadership on issues that threaten the oceans, consumers, and human rights.

The bill, which recently passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources, would provide consumers with more information about the seafood they eat, require fish to be tracked from boat to plate, increase vessel transparency, prevent illegally caught and sourced seafood from entering the United States, and help end forced labor at sea. Additionally, the bill would allow the USA to take stronger action against countries that fail to address IUU fishing and human rights abuses in the seafood sector.

According to chef and James Beard award-winning cookbook author Virginia Willis:

“As a chef and sustainable seafood advocate, I strongly support the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act. This important legislation aims to improve seafood traceability; fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; and curb the labor abuses of human trafficking, forced labor, and child labor in the US seafood supply chain. Our seafood choices matter and impact not only the health of the ocean, but also very real human lives.”

If you’re a chef (or know one), you can join the call for seafood traceability and transparency at sea by signing on here.

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.