U.S. House Passes Bill to Eliminate Illegal Fishing, Forced Labor, and Seafood Mislabeling
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Santa Cruz, California (February 7, 2022) — On Friday, February 4, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act, a bill that promises to strengthen American leadership on environmental and social responsibility in seafood.
“If passed, the America COMPETES Act would have a significant positive impact on the global fight to end illegal fishing and forced labor,” stated Joan Eads, Interim Executive Director at FishWise. “Now it is up to the Senate members and President Biden’s administration to maintain the integrity of this bill and begin to address illegal fishing and forced labor holistically,” Eads continued.
The America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (America COMPETES) bill’s provisions would help combat human rights abuses by expanding the definition of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing to include forced labor. Some data about fisheries products collected through the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) would be available to government agents to inform labor risk detection. The Act also includes: 1) changes to SIMP data collection that would improve the efficacy of the program in detecting and deterring IUU fishing; 2) a ban on shark fin trade in the U.S.; and 3) the phase-out of large driftnet fishing in U.S. waters by 2027. This bill also promises to increase American food security and support local fishers and aquaculture producers by prioritizing U.S. seafood products through grants awarded by the Department of Commerce.
Sara Lewis, FishWise Director of Traceability said, “In 2021, FishWise surveyed dozens of U.S. importers and customs brokers to find that over 75% of the participants supported increased transparency around government efforts to counter illegal fishing, clarified audit requirements, increased agency capacity to implement SIMP effectively, improved data sharing across government agencies, expanded incentives to adopt electronic records, and more proactive government capacity building efforts within supply chains. The America COMPETES Act outlines promising changes to address these needs.”
To learn more about the America Competes Act of 2022, visit here.
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 Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for more information.
Media Contact: Lana Brandt, 831-460-6110, l.brandt@FishWise.org