HSI and WWF welcome United States proposed tough action over pirate fishing
The United States Administration has announced it is considering certifying countries that facilitate pirate fishing operations which endanger the world’s marine wildlife. Certification could lead to the use of powerful trade sanctions to force the countries to clamp down on illegal fishing operations.
Last year Humane Society International (HSI) and WWF-International wrote to the United States Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, calling for certifications and sanctions against the countries that enable the illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) trade in Patagonian toothfish in Antarctica. This ongoing piracy is endangering not only the lucrative fish but also albatrosses and other highly threatened seabirds.
The United States is considering taking action that goes much further in certifying countries that assist the myriad illegal fishing operations happening all over the world’s oceans endangering a variety of marine wildlife. Countries assist the pirate fishers by allowing them to: fly their flags (while avoiding complying with measures required by regional fishing bodies), use outlawed fishing techniques, import and export their illegal catches, and generally by failing to regulate their operations.
HSI and WWF had called for Spain to be sanctioned over the illegal trade in Patagonian toothfish and its impact on endangered seabirds, and for China to be put on notice for its complicity in enabling the trade in illegal toothfish products. Under the new US proposal many other countries would also be culpable.
The United States would use the “Pelly Amendment” to the U.S. Fishermen’s Protective Act, 22 U.S.C. 1978 to certify and sanction countries around the world found to be enabling illegal fishing. Sanctions could include an import ban on the countries’ fish or other products.
“The world’s marine wildlife has been under siege from overfishing for several decades and the crisis is gravely exacerbated by illegal fishing operations,” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director. “With regional fishing bodies failing to control overfishing, never mind reign in the illegal pirates that run rife, and with many species facing extinction, it is vital that countries like the United States use all in their power to clamp down on those countries undermining international efforts to solve the global crisis. HSI and WWF will be writing to the Administration urging swift use of the toughest possible sanctions. We will also write to the Australian Government to ask that they formally encourage the United States to take this action and consider similar trade measures of their own.”