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Delivering on seafood traceability under the new U.S. import monitoring program

Abstract

The United States is the world’s largest fish importer. Recent reports, however, indicate that 25–30% of wild-caught seafood imported into the US is illegally caught, heightening concerns over the country’s significant role in driving Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. In January 2017, NOAA enacted the Seafood Import Monitoring Program in an effort to combat IUU fishing through mandating improved seafood traceability requirements. This program requires reporting of fisheries data from harvest to arrival at the US border. Given the role of the US as a major global importer of seafood, this regulation could be a transformative action on fisheries worldwide if implementation includes two key components—(1) applying best available and most appropriate technologies and (2) building monitoring and enforcement capacity among trading nations. This paper provides insightful commentary on the potential for this US policy to lead by example and improve an essential natural resource that over a billion people worldwide depend on for nutrition and livelihoods.

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Acknowledgements

We thank participants of the LMU-UCLA Seafood Traceability Forum who made generous contributions to discussions reflected in this manuscript. Thank you to four anonymous reviewers for their valuable perspectives and suggestions in improving this manuscript. D.A. Willette would like to thank M.J.L. Joaquin for valuable logistics support. The manuscript was completed while D.A. Willette was a visiting U.S. Fulbright scholar at the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute (Philippines) and at the Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral's Centro de Agua y Desarrollo Sustentable (Ecuador).

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Correspondence to Demian A. Willette.

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Willette, D.A., Cheng, S.H. Delivering on seafood traceability under the new U.S. import monitoring program. Ambio 47, 25–30 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-017-0936-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-017-0936-4

Keywords

  • Fisheries
  • IUU fishing
  • Marine Policy
  • Seafood Import Monitoring Program
  • Seafood mislabeling
  • Traceability