Biden Signs National Security Memorandum To Combat Illegal Fishing

Monday, President Joe Biden signed a National Security Memorandum to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and related harmful fishing practices in the United States.

The White House said the Biden Administration will address IUU fishing by increasing coordination with diverse stakeholders — public and private, foreign and domestic. The United States Government will use the full range of existing conservation, labor, trade, economic, diplomatic, law enforcement, and national security authorities to address these challenges, it added.

The White House outlined a number of actons that the Administration is taking to combat IUU fishing, which will be announced during this week’s U.N. Ocean Conference.

The United States, the UK, and Canada will launch an IUU Fishing Action Alliance, including a pledge to take urgent action to improve the monitoring, control, and surveillance of fisheries, increase transparency in fishing fleets and in the seafood market, and build new partnerships that will hold bad actors accountable.

The U.S. Interagency Working Group on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing, comprising 21 Federal agencies, will release its National Five-Year Strategy for Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (2022-2026) by the end of July.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will also issue a proposed rule to enhance and strengthen its ability to address IUU fishing activities and combat forced labor in the seafood supply chain.

These new actions build on President Biden’s proclamation declaring June as National Ocean Month and key announcements the White House made earlier this month to conserve and restore the health and productivity of the ocean for the benefit of all Americans.

IUU fishing is among the greatest threats to ocean health and is a significant cause of global overfishing, contributing to the collapse or decline of fisheries that are critical to the economic growth, food systems, and ecosystems of numerous countries around the world. Distant water fishing vessels, which engage in industrial-scale fishing operations on the high seas and in waters under other states’ jurisdictions, can be significant perpetrators of IUU fishing and related harmful fishing practices. IUU fishing often involves forced labor, human trafficking, and other crimes and human rights abuses. Left unchecked, IUU fishing and associated labor abuses undermine U.S. economic competitiveness, national security, fisheries sustainability, and the livelihoods and human rights of fishers around the world and will exacerbate the environmental and socioeconomic effects of climate change.

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