25 Social and Environmental NGOs unite to urge U.S. government to tackle IUU fishing

Created on Friday, 21 January 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Santa Cruz, California (January 21, 2022) — Today FishWise joined 25 global conservation, labor, and human rights organizations to urge Secretary John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate to strengthen the U.S. government’s efforts to mitigate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

An estimated 26 million tons of seafood is caught illegally each year, which destroys ocean health and is commonly linked to modern-day slavery. Illegal seafood also threatens food security and is a global maritime security threat. “Putting an end to modern-day slavery at sea and human and labor rights abuses requires bold action from governments worldwide. These issues have been exposed in the seafood industry and political leadership is an integral part of the solution,” said Lori Bishop, Social Responsibility Division Director. 

Oceana initiated the letter to Secretary John Kerry, which was supported by leading environmental and social organizations worldwide. FishWise supports this call to action as it integrates human rights protection with the effort to combat IUU fishing, in alignment with our holistic approach to seafood sustainability. The letter highlights the collective recommendations including: 

  • Strengthen the U.S. government definition of IUU fishing to include forced labor and associated diplomatic mechanisms
  • Work with interagency partners to mitigate forced labour and human rights abuses in seafood supply chains.
  • Demonstrate White House leadership to accelerate action in combating IUU fishing
  • End IUU seafood products in U.S. markets by a specified date
  • Improve Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) implementation and enforcement
  • Require transparency through automatic identification systems (AIS) on all U.S. flagged vessels above a certain size

“Traceability is a critical tool for ensuring that seafood is not sourced from illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices,” said Sara Lewis, Traceability Division Director at FishWise. Electronic traceability systems paired with the political will to end IUU fishing together could have a tremendous impact on improving environmental, social, and economic well-being. 

Download and read the Letter


FishWise is a non-profit sustainable seafood consultancy based in Santa Cruz, CA, that takes a holistic approach to sustainability to protect ocean health and workers’ rights. Offering expertise trusted by labor and human rights and conservation organizations, seafood buyers and suppliers, and government representatives, FishWise offers a range of services that empower businesses and a diverse community of collaborators to lead the transition to a sustainable, ethically responsible seafood industry. Please visit FishWise.org and follow FishWise’s work on InstagramFacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter for more information.

Media Contact: Lana Brandt, 831-460-6110, l.brandt@FishWise.org