U.S. fisheries are a global model of success. We are leading the way in science-based management and in the use of innovative strategies to achieve and maintain sustainable fisheries and to preserve and rebuild protected species, including marine mammals and sea turtles.
As one of the largest seafood-consuming and fishing nations, it is critical that we take an active role in shaping the conservation and management regimes of international fisheries. We work to meet the demand of U.S. consumers that imported seafood be safe, legal, and sustainable and ensure confidence in U.S. seafood by protecting and strengthening the seafood market through international engagement.
We do this by engaging with other nations bilaterally and multilaterally through various international fisheries organizations and agreements to promote sound management and conservation of global fisheries resources in a manner consistent with U.S. domestic fisheries policy.
International Species Conservation and Management
Species are distributed throughout the world’s oceans, so their conservation and recovery requires collaborative action on a global scale. Learn more about ongoing measures taken toward the international conservation and management of sharks, marine mammals, tunas, sea turtles, nautilus, seabirds, and the issue of international bycatch.
Seafood Commerce and Trade
We work to ensure confidence in U.S. seafood by protecting and strengthening the seafood market through global trade, establishing partnerships with industry and consumer groups, and providing voluntary seafood inspection services.
Marine Mammal Import Provisions Rule
The Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Import Provisions rule implements aspects of the MMPA that aim to reduce marine mammal bycatch associated with international commercial fishing operations by requiring nations exporting fish and fish products to the United States be held to the same standards as U.S. commercial fishing operations.
Seafood Import Monitoring Program
For imports of certain seafood products, there are reporting and recordkeeping requirements needed to prevent illegally caught, unreported, unregulated, and/or misrepresented seafood from entering U.S. commerce. This provides additional protections for our national economy, global food security, and the sustainability of our shared ocean resources.
We administer various programs requiring federal permits to authorize commercial and recreational fishing within and beyond U.S. waters. We coordinate issuance of high seas fishing permits, foreign fishing permits, Antarctic marine living resource trade permits, and international permits. Additionally, we participate in the National Permit System, a government service portal for electronically available permits.”
Collaborative Accelerator for Lawful Maritime Conditions in Seafood
CALM-CS (pronounced “calm seas”) was developed to promote legal and safe working conditions throughout the fishing and seafood industry.
Engagement with International Community
Because fish and other marine wildlife cross national boundaries, the United States shares living marine resources with other countries. The way other countries manage these shared marine resources can directly affect the status of fish stocks and protected or endangered species of importance to the United States. For this reason, we collaborate with other countries to ensure successful fisheries management and conservation practices.
We participate in various international fisheries organizations that promote international cooperation to achieve effective, responsible marine stewardship and ensure sustainable fisheries management. Learn more about the international fisheries organizations that NOAA Fisheries participates in for each region:
In the Spotlight: International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, also known as ICCAT, was created in 1969 and covers 50 member nations, including the EU. ICCAT covers the Atlantic Ocean and deals with tuna and tuna-like species.
The Advisory Committee to the U.S. Section of ICCAT is made up of people representing commercial industries, recreational fishing groups, and academia, who are nominated every two years and provide advice to the U.S. ICCAT Commissioners on international issues related to conservation and management.
We have the authority to engage in international activities with other countries to implement the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Our international affairs work builds strategic partnerships with other nations, particularly with developing countries, to promote sustainable and responsible management of fisheries and other relevant marine resources at a global level.
We hold consultations with a number of countries and fishing entities on a regular basis to exchange views and enlist support for U.S. fisheries trade and conservation and management initiatives in international fora.
Fisheries Trade Agreements and Organizations
As a large seafood-consuming and fishing nation, it is critical that we take an active role in shaping the conservation and management regimes of international fisheries. We work to meet the demand of U.S. consumers that imported seafood be safe, legal, and sustainable and ensure confidence in U.S. seafood by protecting and strengthening the seafood market through global trade.
NOAA has regulatory and stewardship authority for fisheries, marine sanctuaries, marine mammals, threatened and endangered species, and habitat conservation. We are engaged in a range of regulatory activities to protect and restore these important resources on a global scale. We also aim to level the playing field for United States fishermen who operate in some of the most sustainably managed and heavily regulated fisheries in the world.
As part of our mission to sustainably manage fishery resources, we implement international trade monitoring programs initiated by international fishery management organizations or required by domestic law. Effective September 20, 2016, we’ve established regulations to integrate the collection of trade documentation within the International Trade Data System, requiring electronic information through a single automated portal.
We work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide support to seafood dealers to ensure imported seafood, such as Patagonian toothfish, bluefin tuna, swordfish, and bigeye tuna, is caught and imported legally. Our trade monitoring programs include the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program, the Tuna Tracking and Verification Program, and the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species International Trade Program.
Marine Mammal Import Act Import Provisions
The Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Provisions rule implements aspects of the MMPA that aim to reduce marine mammal bycatch associated with international commercial fishing operations, by requiring nations exporting fish and fish products to the United States to be held to the same standards as United States commercial fishing operations.
Identification of IUU Fishing, Bycatch, and Shark Catch Activities
Under the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act, the United States identifies nations and entities whose fishing vessels were reported to be engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, bycatch, and shark catch activities and consults with those countries to improve their fisheries management and enforcement practices.
Seafood Import Monitoring Program
For imports of certain seafood products, we establish reporting and recordkeeping requirements needed to prevent illegally caught, unreported, unregulated, and/or misrepresented seafood from entering U.S. commerce, providing additional protections for our national economy, global food security and the sustainability of our shared ocean resources.
Additionally, we work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide support to seafood dealers to ensure imported seafood, such as Patagonian toothfish, bluefin tuna, swordfish, and bigeye tuna, is caught and imported legally.
International Cooperation on Key Issues
We build strategic partnerships with other nations, particularly with developing countries, to promote sustainable and responsible management of fisheries and other relevant marine resources at the national, regional, and global levels.
Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance
We assist in the compliance to fishery management measures, ensuring that appropriate controls are set, monitored, and complied with. We encourage various international efforts and programs to more effectively enforce conservation measures designed to protect world fisheries and ecosystems.
Learn more about international monitoring, control, and surveillance efforts
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. Data to document bycatch and the effects of bycatch are often lacking in these countries as the research needed takes time, money, and training that are often limited. We support various bilateral and multilateral cooperative efforts that work on the ground to reduce bycatch, including data collection efforts and projects to improve bycatch mitigation technologies.
Improving Fisheries Governance
The lack of information and oversight in fisheries management among some developing nations has resulted in declining marine stocks, many of which are vital to providing fish to the local markets. We encourage various fisheries governance projects and programs to achieve effective and responsible marine stewardship and ensure sustainable global fisheries management. These opportunities build international cooperation that supports science-based fisheries management and strengthens our international strategic partnerships.
International Species Conservation and Management
Species are distributed throughout the world’s oceans, so their conservation and recovery requires collaborative action on a global scale. Learn more about ongoing measures nations are taking toward the international conservation and management of sharks, marine mammals, tunas, sea turtles, nautilus, seabirds, and the issue of international bycatch.
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing describes a wide variety of fishing-related activities that may violate both national and international fishing regulations. They can occur at several points in the seafood supply chain. Examples of IUU fishing include:
- Fishing in closed areas or during closed seasons
- Fishing from vessels that are not actively managed by the flag state
- Failing to meet reporting requirements
- Transferring fish to cargo vessels without proper authorization
These activities significantly undermine U.S. and global efforts to sustainably manage fisheries and conserve marine resources. As a result, IUU fishing threatens food security and upsets the economies of coastal communities around the world. It’s difficult to quantify the full global economic impacts of these activities. However, there is little disagreement that the loss is in the billions, or even tens of billions, of dollars each year.
IUU fishing also puts rule-abiding fishermen and seafood producers in the United States at a disadvantage in global markets. Fishermen who engage in IUU fishing activities avoid the operational costs associated with sustainable fishery management and may harvest more fish and seafood than is allowed. As a result, they can sell their products for less money.
Our Work and Interagency Collaboration
Combating IUU fishing is a top priority for the United States. NOAA Fisheries is one of several federal agencies working together to effectively address this critical issue. Coordination among U.S. government agencies is critical to effectively combating IUU fishing. So are our collaborations with foreign governments and entities, international organizations, non-government organizations, and the private sector.
Keeping IUU Fish and Fish Products Out of U.S. Markets
The United States imports nearly 80 percent of its seafood. That means it’s essential to ensure that our high demand for imported seafood does not create incentives for IUU fishing activity. We do this by taking steps, in collaboration with other nations, that prevent IUU fish and fish products from entering our markets:
Strengthening Global Marine Stewardship
Successfully combating a global problem like IUU fishing requires multilateral cooperation. This includes strong regional fisheries management organizations and strict monitoring, control, and surveillance of the ocean areas they manage. Our partnerships and agreements with foreign governments, foreign entities, and international organizations are crucial to making counter-IUU fishing efforts successful. They allow us to promote the implementation of sustainable fisheries regulations and effective monitoring systems overseas to combat these activities.
The United States is a member of nearly a dozen multilateral regional fisheries management organizations, in addition to being a party to hundreds of global and bilateral agreements and arrangements.
Helping Nations Build Monitoring and Enforcement Capacity
We work closely with other nations, particularly with developing countries, to help them enhance their abilities to combat IUU fishing. We provide the tools, resources, information, and information sharing avenues they need to be successful. We do this primarily by providing technical assistance and hosting training workshops for foreign agencies, organizations, and communities.
International Fisheries Science
Our nation’s marine life has no geopolitical boundaries. Yet, our actions—and those of other nations—can have a significant impact on the conservation and sustainability of those resources. Managing our nation’s resources requires a strong scientific and management enterprise strengthened by our ability to work effectively with our international partners. NOAA Fisheries’ international science activities are a critical component for providing the best available science to inform and guide marine life conservation.
International Collaboration Supports Domestic Fisheries
NOAA Fisheries’ science enterprise is diverse. It currently relies on significant international collaborations to keep abreast of cutting-edge innovations and to exchange experience and knowledge with internationally recognized experts. Our scientists are recognized experts in a wide range of disciplines. They participate in various international scientific forums, Regional Fishery Management Organizations, and bilateral collaborations with foreign partners.
We want to ensure that the United States benefits from cutting-edge science from around the world. We also want NOAA’s expertise and innovative scientific approaches to fisheries management to be shared in international forums.
NOAA Fisheries seeks to:
- Maintain leadership and expertise in fisheries science to meet international and domestic obligations
- Strengthen relationships with other countries in order to jointly collect information and assess the status of shared stocks
- Support capacity building and technical assistance to improve the management of marine life in developing countries
Regional Fishery Management Organizations
NOAA Fisheries scientists participate in many scientific committees that advise regional fishery management organizations in setting fisheries management and marine conservation actions. Participation in these organizations support cutting-edge science, provide science advice, and serve both U.S. domestic and international interests. They also provide an important venue for developing and fostering research collaborations and scientific exchanges.
Marine Science Organizations
NOAA Fisheries is heavily involved in a variety of international marine science organizations. These groups provide a venue for fishery scientists to collaborate, share research methodologies and approaches, and address new challenges impacting fisheries and marine life.