White House Flickr/Pete Souza
This week at the global “Our Ocean” conference hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, President Obama announced an important initiative to fight seafood fraud and illegal fishing within the United States.
The announcement has meaningful implications for the growing concerns of seafood sustainability around the world, but particularly within the U.S. A recent study of top U.S. seafood imports found that between 20 and 32 percent of wild-caught seafood came from “illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) or ‘pirate’ fishing.”
The initiative will also take on seafood fraud, which has affected at least a third of the country’s seafood (more than 1,200 samples between 2010 and 2012), according to a nationwide survey conducted by international ocean advocacy group Oceana. Of the samples tested, 33 percent were found to be mislabeled according to guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration.
“President Obama’s announcement is a historic step forward in the fight against seafood fraud and illegal fishing worldwide,” said Oceana campaign director Beth Lowell.
“By tracing our seafood from boat to plate, consumers will have more information about the fish they purchase. Seafood traceability also protects honest fisherman and businesses that are undercut by unfair competition, while also closing our markets to illegally caught products that threaten the long-term stability of ocean ecosystems.”
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