International Protected Species and Bycatch Mitigation
Bycatch, a major threat to sustainable populations, poses a particular challenge in developing countries with fisheries that export to the United States.
Reducing global bycatch is a major priority for NOAA Fisheries. Our international work builds on our efforts in the United States and reflects the laws that drive our mission, such as the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Endangered Species Act. We work within regional fisheries management organizations and global organizations such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
We support bilateral and multilateral cooperative work on the ground, including data collection and projects to improve bycatch mitigation technologies. Many of the countries in the Latin America, Asia Pacific, and West African regions are overwhelmed by the increasing demand for their fisheries products, while many lack the necessary management and/or enforcement capacity to sustainably manage their marine resources. Conservation activities or their lack in countries outside the United States can either enhance or undermine our own fisheries management and conservation efforts.
Our international cooperation efforts focus on the following three priority areas:
1) Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing through monitoring, control and surveillance initiatives
(2) Building capacity of countries to sustainably manage their fisheries resources – improving their fisheries governance; and
(3) Supporting the recovery of protected species and bycatch mitigation.
International Protected Species and Bycatch Mitigation Projects
- Promote greater knowledge of elasmobranchs in the Wider Caribbean and make recommendations for their management conservation in the form of a Regional Plan of Action through collaboration and support of the Western and Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC) Working Group on Sharks.
- Promote Research, Policy, and Advocacy in Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia to deter Seafood Fraud and Illegal International Trade of Shark Products by analyzing the international trade routes of these species out of the three countries and raising awareness among relevant regional and international stakeholders. The project also aims to analyze fishery product export codes utilized in Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia to monitor the international trade in shark and ray products and assist in the development of proposals for the adoption of harmonized codes in these countries.
- Support the implementation of the Interim Fisheries Coordination Mechanism for Sustainable Fisheries by providing support for the improved management of the queen conch and spiny lobster fisheries and strengthening catch and traceability schemes.
- Promote regional collaboration on implementing the shark and ray trade requirements under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) through workshops and projects that improve the knowledge on the international trade of sharks, skates, and rays;
- Provide multiple trainings in use and enforcement of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in shrimp trawl fisheries to reduce turtle bycatch.
- International Guidelines on Bycatch
- Marine Mammal Bycatch Criteria for U.S. Imports
- Bycatch Mitigation Information System
- Science and technology training in Guatemala, Indonesia and the Philippines
- Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
- Organization of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA )
- Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC)
- Asia Pacific Fishery Commission
For questions about international bycatch issues, please contact Liz Mencher, NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce (firstname.lastname@example.org).