Report on IUU Fishing, Bycatch, and Shark Catch
NOAA Fisheries' biennial report to Congress identifies nations and entities that the United States will work with to address IUU fishing and forced labor activities, and to support effective management of protected species and shark catch.
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is a serious global problem that threatens ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries critical to global food and economic security – putting law-abiding fishermen and seafood producers in the United States and abroad at a disadvantage. Bycatch can negatively affect the conservation of protected marine life. Nations that do not have regulatory programs in place to effectively reduce or mitigate bycatch of protected species caught in association with fisheries threaten the sustainability of those ecosystems or other transboundary resources shared with the United States. There are also growing concerns regarding the status of many shark stocks and their exploitation in global fisheries.
In biennial reports to Congress, NOAA Fisheries identifies nations and entities that the United States will work with over the next two years to address IUU fishing and forced labor activities, and support effective management of protected species and shark catch. In the following report, certification determinations – a determination on whether actions were taken to remedy the identified activities -- are announced for the previously identified nations. 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.
- NOAA engagement with nations and entities under the Moratorium Protection Act
- Current Port Restrictions under the Moratorium Protection Act
Report to Congress on Improving International Fisheries Management
In its 2023 Report, NOAA Fisheries identified seven nations and entities for IUU fishing:
- Angola, Grenada, Mexico, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, The Gambia, and Vanuatu.
Identifications for the PRC and Taiwan include information related to seafood-related goods produced through forced labor. The PRC and Vanuatu are additionally identified for shark catch without a regulatory program comparable to that of the United States. This is the first time, as part of this report, that NOAA Fisheries identified nations for shark catch, and considered forced labor in the seafood sector when making IUU fishing identifications.
The 2023 Report also announced certification determinations for thirty-one nations and entities identified for IUU fishing and/or bycatch of protected marine life from its 2021 Report.
- Costa Rica, Guyana, Senegal, and Taiwan received positive certification determinations for taking actions to remedy the IUU fishing activities identified in the 2021 Report.
- Mexico, the PRC, and the Russian Federation received negative certifications for failing to take actions to remedy their reported activities.
Protected Marine Life Bycatch
- Croatia, Egypt, European Union, Grenada, Guyana, Japan, Mauritania, Morocco, the People’s Republic of China, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, and Taiwan received positive certifications for taking corrective actions to address their protected marine life bycatch activities identified in the 2021 Report.
- Algeria, Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Namibia, Senegal, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and Turkey received negative certifications for not having a regulatory program comparable to that of the United States to reduce bycatch of sea turtles in pelagic longline fisheries in the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas waters beyond any national jurisdiction.
Additionally, Mexico has been negatively certified for its lack of a comparable regulatory program to reduce or minimize bycatch of endangered North Pacific loggerhead sea turtles.
NOAA Fisheries will work with nations and entities to address the identified activities – which helps ensure that the fish and fish products the United States imports are caught sustainably and legally.
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. This has resulted in a positive certification decision for each nation from the United States.
However, Mexico and Ecuador were again identified for reported IUU fishing activities (occurring in 2016–2018). The Republic of Korea was identified for reported IUU fishing activities.
In April 2018, an Addendum to the 2017 Biennial Report to Congress was issued:
- Based on Mexico’s prosecution of individuals and fishing cooperatives associated with unauthorized fishing in the U.S. EEZ and the 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 the 2019 Report to Congress.
- 2017 Report to Congress
- Addendum to the 2017 Report
- International Living Marine Resources Table (2017)
The National Defense Authorization Act (2023) made a number of procedural and substantive amendments to the Moratorium Protection Act. Among those were provisions enabling NOAA Fisheries to identify nations and entities at any time the agency has sufficient information and allowing NOAA Fisheries to consider forced labor and child labor in preparing its IUU fishing identifications.
The Shark/IUU Fishing Final Rule (2013) implemented 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) established procedures for the identification and certification of nations whose vessels are engaged in IUU fishing or bycatch of protected living marine resources.