Identification of IUU Fishing Activities
The United States is required to identify nations for Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (IUU fishing), and/or bycatch of protected living marine resources or shark catch on the high seas for nations that do not have regulatory measures comparable to the United States in a biennial Report to Congress. Identification is the first step in a three-step process. Through amendments, the Act now allows an analysis of three years of data for IUU fishing, bycatch, and shark catch on the high seas.
The Magnuson‐Stevens Act amended the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act (Moratorium Protection Act). It directs the United States to strengthen international fisheries management organizations and to address IUU fishing and bycatch of protected living marine resources. The Moratorium Protection Act was further amended in 2011 by the Shark Conservation Act to improve the conservation of sharks domestically and internationally.
Once a nation is identified, we enter a 2-year consultation process to encourage that nation to take necessary measures to address the issue for which it was identified. Following these consultations, NOAA Fisheries determines whether to negatively or positively certify the identified nation in the next report to Congress. A positive certification is issued if the nation has provided evidence of actions that address the activities for which it was identified. A negative certification may result in denial of U.S. port access for fishing vessels of that nation and potential import restrictions on fish or fish products.
Findings and Analyses of Foreign IUU Fishing Activities
Three nations (Mexico, Ecuador and the Russian Federation) that were identified in the 2017 Report for reported IUU fishing activities have since taken actions to remedy those activities which has resulted in a positive certification decision for each nation from the United States.
However, in the 2019 Improving International Fisheries Management Report to Congress, Mexico and Ecuador are again identified for reported IUU fishing activities (occurring in 2016-2018); and the Republic of Korea is identified for reported IUU fishing activities.
The United States will hold consultations with the identified nations to encourage them to take action to address these activities. In the 2021 Report to Congress, the United States will issue new identifications, as well as certification decisions for the nations identified in 2019.
In April 2018, an Addendum to the 2017 Biennial Report to Congress (PDF, 3 pages) to was issued:
- NOAA Fisheries has worked with Mexico to address the actions cited—unauthorized fishing by Mexican vessels, known as lanchas, in the U.S. EEZ of the Gulf of Mexico and for overfishing of stocks shared with the United States.
- Based on Mexico’s prosecution of individuals and fishing cooperatives associated with unauthorized fishing in the U.S. EEZ and adoption of additional actions to address these incursions, NOAA Fisheries has issued a positive certification decision to Mexico.
- As Mexico was also identified for additional cases of IUU fishing in the 2017 report, failure to sustain its efforts to combat IUU fishing could result in another negative certification in NOAA’s 2019 Report to Congress.
The Shark/IUU Fishing Final Rule (2013) implements the international provisions of the Shark Conservation Act. This regulation specifies procedures for identifying and certifying nations whose vessels target sharks on the high seas. It also amends the definition of IUU fishing to help ensure a comprehensive approach to addressing unsustainable fisheries activities of greatest concern to the United States.
The IUU Fishing/Bycatch Final Rule (2011) establishes procedures for the identification and certification of nations whose vessels are engaged in IUU fishing or bycatch of Protected Living Marine Resources.
Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act Biennial Reports to Congress
2013 Report (PDF, 100 pages)
- 2011 Report (PDF, 125 pages)
For more information on the international provisions of the MSRA and implementation of the Moratorium Protection Act, please contact Oriana Villar (email@example.com), Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection.