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Marine Conservation Institute Commends Presidential Task Force on Combatting Illegal Fishing and Seafood Fraud

Marine Conservation Institute, a leader in protecting marine biodiversity, commended the White House on the recommendations released today from its Task Force on Combatting IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud. The Task Force, which was composed of 14 agencies and worked for 6 months, recommended a comprehensive program to: combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing on the high seas and in international ports; strengthen US and international enforcement against IUU fishing and seafood fraud; partner with other governments, industry and nonprofits; and create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into the supply chain.

Global trade in IUU or pirated fish is estimated by fishery trade experts to total $10-24 billion annually[i]  Other studies estimate that 20%-32% of the wild-caught fish imported into the US are illegal and these are valued at $1.3-2.1 billion dollars annually[ii]

“The recommendations released today are very good and comprehensive,” said Michael Gravitz, director of policy and legislation at Marine Conservation Institute.  “We want to compliment the Obama administration for this excellent effort. It will take additional commitments of resources and Congressional action on the IUU fishing legislation that has lingered for years before the global pirate fishing problem starts to diminish.”

Pirate fishing hurts American fishermen who follow the laws.  It forces these honest fisherman  to compete against fishermen who do not follow conservation rules and leaves less fish for them to catch in international waters. Trade in illegally-caught fish can also lower the prices US fishermen get for their catch in the US market.  Alaskan crab fishermen have been hurt for years in this way by imports of illegal crab from Russia. Other fishermen who catch snapper, Pollock, salmon and tuna are injured in similar ways by imports of illegally caught fish.

“Using very conservative methods, Marine Conservation Institute estimates that if IUU imports to the US were ended and American fishermen replaced the imports over time with domestically caught seafood, approximately 55,000 direct fishing and fish processing jobs would be added to coastal fishing communities around the US plus another 40,000 indirect jobs for suppliers and the towns they live in,” added Gravitz. “That would be a terrific boost to many coastal towns around the country.”

The recommendations mirror many that Marine Conservation Institute has made before ―in testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee, in comments on IUU bills introduced in both the House and Senate and in statements to the President’s Task Force on IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud.

About Marine Conservation Institute 

Marine Conservation Institute is a team of highly-experienced marine scientists and environmental-policy advocates dedicated to saving ocean life for us and future generations. The organization’s goal is to help the world create an urgently-needed worldwide system of strongly protected areas—the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES)—a strategic, cost-effective way to ensure future diversity and abundance of marine life. Founded in 1996, Marine Conservation Institute is a US-based nonprofit organization with offices in Seattle, near San Francisco and in Washington DC. For more information, please go to:

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For more information, media and bloggers only, please contact:

Mike Gravitz, Director of Policy & Legislation
Marine Conservation Institute
(202) 546-5346

[i] Agnew DJ, Pearce J, Pramod G, Peatman T, Watson R et al. (2009) “Estimating the Worldwide Extent of Illegal Fishing”, PLoS One (4(2): e4570.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004570

[ii] Pramod G, Nakamura K, Pitcher T, Delagran L. (2014) “Estimates of Illegal and Unreported fish in Seafood Imports to the USA,” Marine Policy 48 (2014) pages 102–113