Pres. Obama signs illegal fishing bill into law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fighting fishing piracy and seafood fraud was made a little bit easier as Pres. Barack Obama signed the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act into law on Nov. 5.

The new law empowers federal government agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to prevent pirated fish from entering American ports and domestic markets.

House Resolution 774 (H.R. 774) was supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle.

“This bi-partisan legislation will advance U.S. efforts to prevent illegally harvested fish from entering our ports and market and achieve sustainable fisheries globally,” a formal statement issued by The White House said. “The signing of this bill will also enhance our ability to prevent IUU [illegal, unreported, and unregulated] fish and fish product from entering U.S. commerce by strengthening domestic enforcement authorities.”

The federal law is part of an international effort to regulate how commercial fisheries operate on the open seas and reduce the distribution of illegally captured seafood.

An official statement from NOAA stated H.R. 774 allows the United States to join efforts to ratify and implement the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). The agreement mirrors H.R. 774 to keep pirated fish out of local ports.

“The United States will now join a global effort to ratify and implement the Port State Measures Agreement, which will prevent vessels carrying fish caught illegally from entering our ports, keep illegal product out of the market and demonstrate our continued leadership in the global fight against IUU fishing,” the White House stated, adding a similar international treaty requires a union of 25 countries to have full effect. “We are more than halfway [to 25 countries] and the U.S. will continue to work closely with our partners around the world to finalize this important treaty.”

White House representatives stated H.R. 774 will ultimate benefit fishermen, seafood buyers and consumers.

“These measures will benefit U.S. fishermen, seafood buyers, and consumers by protecting our domestic fishermen from unfair, illegal competition and ensure consumer confidence in the seafood supply,” the White House stated.

The PSMA has already been signed by 14 nations, including the United States; the treaty becomes legally binding once it is ratified in 25 countries.

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