What We Do
The Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce engages other countries bilaterally and through various multilateral international fisheries organizations. We promote sound management and conservation of global fisheries resources in a manner consistent with U.S. domestic fisheries policy. Our goal is sustainable global resources and a “level playing field” for U.S. fishermen and seafood producers.
Because fish and other marine wildlife cross national boundaries, the United States shares marine life with other countries. The way other countries manage these shared marine resources can therefore directly affect the status of fish stocks and protected or endangered species of importance to the United States. We participate in various international fisheries organizations to achieve effective and responsible marine stewardship and ensure sustainable fisheries management.
- Regional agreements
- Global agreements
- Bilateral arrangements
- Trade agreement
Successful fisheries management and conservation practices can only be achieved through international cooperation and collaboration. Working with our international partners, the Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce works to combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing, promote comprehensive research on fish and other marine animals that travel through international waters, and preserve endangered species that share our oceans.
- Monitoring, control, and surveillance
- Protected species and bycatch mitigation
- Improving fisheries governance
- International species conservation and management
The seafood sector plays an important role in the U.S. economy, generating approximately 1.5 million jobs and providing a nutritious source of protein to the American public. As the largest importer and fifth largest exporter of seafood, trade in this sector plays a vital role in the United States.
Combating IUU Fishing
The United States imports more than 90 percent of its seafood. NOAA Fisheries works to ensure that high demand for imported seafood does not create incentives for illegal fishing activity. Working in partnership with other U.S. government agencies, foreign governments and entities, international organizations, non-government organizations, and the private sector is crucial to effectively combating IUU fishing.
- FAQs on IUU Fishing
- Biennial Reports to Congress on IUU Fishing, Bycatch and Shark Catch
- U.S. Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing
Our goals are to promote U.S. seafood exports, pursue fair market access for the U.S. seafood industry, shape seafood trade strategies, and enhance global recognition of U.S. seafood as a sustainable choice. We proactively engage with the private sector, seafood industry representatives, and other stakeholders to tackle issues regarding seafood import monitoring, export promotion, and market access issues and to provide market analysis.
Our policy work advances broader NOAA priorities related to seafood trade and commerce, including promoting U.S. seafood competitiveness and other policy objectives through bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, trade facilitation, and export promotion.
We actively engage with other nations bilaterally and multilaterally through various trade agreements to support trade and fisheries policy priorities. We collaborate with other U.S. government agencies to effectively implement relevant provisions of free trade agreements and influence negotiations of new agreements.
As part of our mission to sustainably manage fishery resources, we work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide support to seafood dealers that helps ensure imported seafood is caught and imported legally.
Learn more about our trade monitoring programs:
- Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program
- Highly Migratory Species International Trade Program
- Seafood Import Monitoring Program
- Tuna Tracking and Verification Program
Seafood traders can also use our Seafood Import and Export Tool to identify which NOAA trade monitoring programs they must comply with for their specific products.
We negotiate and issue export certificates to maintain market access on behalf of U.S. seafood producers and to facilitate trade. We also collaborate with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service to prevent, reduce, and remove barriers to trade and promote U.S. seafood exports.
Commerce and Certification
The United States produces about $10 billion dollars worth of processed seafood each year; exports represent approximately half of that value. Our office works to ensure confidence in U.S. seafood by protecting and strengthening the seafood market through global trade, establishing partnerships with industry and consumer groups, providing seafood inspection services, and analyzing seafood safety risks.
We offer voluntary seafood inspection services to processors and importers, domestically and internationally, to assist in meeting U.S. regulations and generally accepted seafood production best practices governing fishery products for human consumption. This service supports seafood safety and includes sanitation inspection, system and process audits, grading and inspection, export certification, and product laboratory analyses.
Commerce and certification provides export services to facilitate exports of seafood products that meet the unique requirements of each importing country and any other specific industry buyer criteria. We represent the United States in negotiations with other countries regarding their import requirements for seafood products from the United States. We serve as the Competent Authority to issue health and catch certification for U.S. seafood exports.
In her role as Director, Ms. Cole promotes global engagement and cooperation to ensure effective, responsible marine stewardship and sustainable fisheries management; and oversees seafood inspection services. Previously, she served as Deputy Chief of the Enforcement Section of NOAA General Counsel. She has a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies from McGill University, a J.D. from Vermont Law School, and a M.A. in International Public Policy at The Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Michael Brakke is the Deputy Director of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce. He joined NOAA from the Department of State, where he was responsible for international fisheries negotiations in the Office of Marine Conservation. Brakke began his federal career as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Department of Energy and a senior energy analyst at the Department of State. He has a B.A. in economics from Saint John’s University in Minnesota and an M.P.A. in International Relations and Environmental Policy from Princeton University.