NOAA has lifted its stay on shrimp and abalone in the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program – known as SIMP. As required by Congress -- by December 31, 2018, it will be mandatory for foreign shrimp products to be accompanied by harvest and landing data and for importers to maintain chain of custody records for shrimp and abalone imports entering the U.S. The inclusion of shrimp – the largest US seafood import- and abalone in SIMP nearly doubles the volume and value of imported fish and fish products subject to its requirements, further leveling the playing field for U.S. fishermen, aquaculture producers, and seafood producers around the world who play by the rules.
The United States is recognized as a global leader in sustainable seafood - both wild-caught and farmed. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud, including misrepresented seafood products, jeopardize the health of fish stocks, distort legal markets, negatively impact consumer confidence, and unfairly compete with the products of law-abiding fishermen, aquaculture producers and seafood producers.
In December 2016, SIMP established permitting, data reporting, and recordkeeping requirements for the import of thirteen priority species of fish and fish products entering U.S. commerce identified as being especially vulnerable to IUU fishing and/or seafood fraud. SIMP facilitates better data collection and retention, sharing, and analysis among relevant regulators and enforcement authorities for imported seafood—marking a significant step forward in combatting IUU fishing and seafood fraud.
Compliance with SIMP requirements became effective on January 1, 2018; however, the inclusion of shrimp and abalone was stayed until comparable traceability requirements for domestic aquaculture could be established. For the other priority species to which SIMP applies, equivalent information is already being collected for the products of U.S. domestic fisheries pursuant to various federal and/or state fishery management and reporting programs.
In the 2018 budget law, Congress directed the Secretary of Commerce to lift the stay on shrimp and abalone and to establish a comparable traceability program for domestic aquaculture by December 31, 2018 – providing the mandate and the mechanism to both lift the stay and address the gap between traceability requirements for domestic aquaculture and the SIMP requirements.
NOAA and its U.S. Government partner agencies will continue to work with U.S. fishermen, aquaculture producers, foreign trading partners, and the international fishing community to support clarity and understanding of the Seafood Import Monitoring Program’s requirements and support an orderly and timely implementation of these initiatives. Additional implementation developments and opportunities for industry engagement will follow.