NOAA report to Congress names IUU countries

Created on Friday, 27 February 2015

Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published its biannual report to Congress on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In the report, NOAA identifies six nations engaging in IUU fishing: Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, Nicaragua, and Portugal.  

NOAA is interested in IUU fishing because, “IUU fishing and seafood fraud undermine international efforts to sustainably manage and rebuild fisheries, and creates unfair market competition for fishermen playing by the rules, like those in the United States.”(read more here)

The six nations identified in the report have committed a range of IUU fishing violations in the last two years, including fishing in restricted areas, discarding and misreporting catch, and improperly handling entangled sea turtles.

Violations of international conservation and management measures:

  • Columbia

  • Ecuador

  • Nicaragua

  • Portugal

Overfishing of shared stocks and fishing within the U.S. EEZ:

  • Mexico

Undermining conservation measures of a regional fisheries management organization:

  • Nigeria

In the interim period before the 2017 report, NOAA will work with each nation to improve their fisheries management and enforcement. However, if they fail to make sufficient progress toward addressing NOAA’s concerns these countries risk seafood import bans and restricted fishing vessel port privileges.

Encouragingly, all but three of the ten nations identified in the 2013 report took sufficient action to avoid repeat appearances on NOAA’s IUU list by adopting new laws, sanctioning violators, and/or improving monitoring and enforcement. However, despite addressing NOAA’s 2013 concerns, Columbia, Ecuador and Mexico were re-identified in the 2015 report due to recent IUU activity.

The report also listed five countries “of interest”: Belize, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, and Spain.