The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held four public hearings across the country in July to discuss implementation of the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program.
“The Seafood Import Monitoring Program is the first phase of a risk-based traceability program, which establishes the reporting and recordkeeping requirements needed to prevent illegally harvested and misrepresented seafood from entering into U.S. Commerce,” a Federal Register notice of the public workshops stated. “In the development of the [Seafood Import Monitoring Program] rule, 13 ‘priority’ species were identified as being most at risk for Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and misrepresentation, and are the only species currently subject to this program.”
A federal final rule to establish the Seafood Import Monitoring Program was published in December 2016.
“The Seafood Import Monitoring Program establishes for imports of certain seafood products, the reporting and recordkeeping requirements needed to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU)-caught and/or misrepresented seafood from entering U.S. commerce, thereby providing additional protections for our national economy, global food security and the sustainability of our shared ocean resources,” NOAA officials stated on its website dedicated to illegal and fraudulent fishing.
Meetings were held in Long Beach (July 13), Seattle (July 18), Elizabeth, New Jersey (July 20) and Miami (July 25).
The 13 seafood species listed as a priority under the Seafood Import Monitoring Program are abalone, Atlantic cod, Atlantic blue crab, grouper, mahi mahi, Pacific cod, red king crab, red snapper, sea cucumber, sharks, shrimp, swordfish and four types of tuna (bigeye, bluefin, skipjack, yellowfin).
Each species, according to NOAA, “will be required to submit harvest and landing information on those products through the International Trade Data System (ITDS) prior to entry into U.S. Commerce, and maintain supply chain records from the point of harvest to the point of entry into U.S Commerce for a period of 2 years after entry.”
Foreign exporters and U.S. domestic importers of seafood species covered by the Seafood Import Monitoring Program must be compliant with the policy initiative by Jan. 1, 2018. The implementation date and compliance deadline might be affected by a challenge of the monitoring program in federal court.
A summary of what was discussed at the public workshops, including NOAA’s forecasted timeline for implementation of its policy initiatives, will be provided in the August 11 issue of The Log and FishRap.