Two US lawmakers have introduced a bill that would end illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and human rights abuses in the seafood supply chain.
The “Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act” was introduced this week by US Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Garret Graves (R-LA).
According to a statement issued by Huffman’s office, the bill would link IUU fishing to forced labor in the seafood supply chain and make seafood import monitoring more effective. It would also increase transparency and traceability from catch to plate, strengthen enforcement against IUU fishing and forced labor, improve interagency cooperation, and increase pressure on other countries to tackle IUU fishing and human rights abuses.
“IUU fishing is an environmental and humanitarian crisis, and the U.S. should be a global leader in solving it. Illegal fishing operations damage ocean ecosystems and healthy fisheries, and are often the same ones that rely on atrocious, illegal practices like human trafficking and forced labor. Our new legislation tackles IUU fishing to protect human lives, promote responsible fishing around the world, and level the playing field for U.S. fishermen. Not only do we need to ensure an ethical seafood supply chain, but we also need to stop IUU products from entering our markets and competing with those who follow the rules and who keep our domestic fishing industry sustainable.”
Oceana’s deputy vice president of U.S. campaigns, Beth Lowell, praised the legislation:
“Seafood should not come at the cost of human rights or healthy oceans. The United States has the opportunity to lead in the fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and human rights abuses by ensuring that our market is closed to illegally sourced seafood. By expanding import requirements and vessel transparency, requiring full chain traceability, and giving the U.S. more tools to fight IUU fishing, the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act offers a promising pathway to combat illegal fishing, which threatens the future of our oceans and those who depend on them. The Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act will ensure that U.S. dollars are not supporting illegal fishing and injustices happening at sea, while also protecting U.S. consumers from seafood fraud. Oceana applauds Rep. Huffman and Rep. Graves for their leadership to help level the playing field for U.S. fishermen, protect workers at sea, and provide more transparency in the seafood sector. It’s time for the United States to get tougher on illegal fishing and ensure that all seafood is safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced, and honestly labeled.”
(Image credit: Oceana/Eduardo Sorensen)