When it comes to fisheries management, the United States is saying to the world, “do as we do, and as we say!”
NOAA Fisheries recently released its 2021 Biennial Report to Congress on Improving International Fisheries Management identifying 31 nations and entities with vessels engaged in illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fishing activities; and/or for lack of a regulatory program to address fishing practices that result in the bycatch of protected living marine resources (PLMRs).
Nations identified in the report for IUU activities included China, Costa Rica, Guyana, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Senegal, and Taiwan, while those cited for lack of a regulatory program resulting in the bycatch of PLMRs include Algeria, Barbados, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, European Union, France, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Portugal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and Turkey.
The 2021 Report also announced certification determinations for nations identified for IUU fishing activities in the 2019 Biennial Report to Congress. “Mexico has been negatively certified for failing to curb the flow of small vessels fishing illegally in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” NOAA Fisheries said in a statement, adding “Fishing vessels of a negatively certified nation or entity are subject to denial of entry into U.S. ports and potential import restrictions of certain fish and fish products.”
Just two nations – Ecuador and the Republic of Korea – received positive certification determinations in the report for taking actions to remedy the IUU fishing activities for which they were previously identified in 2019.
Here in the United States, the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson) is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in United States federal waters. The law is named after U.S. Senators Warren G. Magnuson of Washington and Ted Stevens of Alaska, who sponsored the Senate bill eventually enacted as our federal fisheries law in 1976.
Coincidentally, Magnuson was implemented not only to sustain U.S. coastal fisheries, but to extend the exclusive fisheries zone of the U.S. from 12 to 200 nautical miles in an effort to remove foreign fleets – particularly Russian trawlers – from unregulated fishing activities along the Atlantic coast.