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Seafood Import Monitoring Program Proposed Rule to Expand Species Groups and Improve Implementation

December 27, 2022

Public comment on changes to the program accepted until March 28, 2023.

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NOAA seeks public comment on changes to its Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP). The proposed rule would increase the species included in SIMP from approximately 1,100 to 1,672 unique species. It also clarifies other elements of the regulations in order to improve implementation and strengthen the program.

SIMP is a screening and deterrent tool. It helps to identify and deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fish and fish products and misrepresented seafood from entering the U.S. market. It has been in effect for 13 species and species groups for about 4 years. The risk-based framework complements the multiple tools the U.S. government uses to combat this issue by targeting species that are most vulnerable to IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

Species Considered for Expansion

NOAA Fisheries conducted a thorough evaluation of species to determine those proposed for inclusion in SIMP. We propose expanding the currently listed red snapper and tuna to larger species groups. This would minimize the risk of mislabeling and product substitution in order to bypass SIMP requirements. We also propose adding cuttlefish and squid, eels, octopus, Queen Conch, and Caribbean Spiny Lobster to the program. These additions would reduce the occurrence of mislabeling and product substitution, facilitating the enforcement of SIMP reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Given our analysis, we are not proposing to remove any species or species groups currently included in SIMP.

“With this proposed rule, we will strengthen the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, while continuing to implement it in a risk-based manner. SIMP is one of four seafood trade monitoring programs and one of many important tools NOAA has to prevent, track, and enforce against IUU fishing activity,” says Alexa Cole, Director of the Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce in NOAA Fisheries. “The risk-based approach allows for efficient use of government resources for screening and implementation while minimizing industry burden and trade impact.”

Regulation Amendments

We welcome feedback on other proposed changes to clarify the responsibilities of International Fisheries Trade Permit holders, electronic recordkeeping, and the small-fisheries harvest accommodation criteria. We also welcome other feedback from stakeholders on improving the program, such as interest in a standardized form for compliance.

NOAA Fisheries is committed to the ongoing development and enhancement of SIMP, both programmatic and regulatory, as part of our comprehensive approach to combating IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

Last updated by Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce on January 07, 2023