NOAA Move Against Pirate Fishing - New Rules Prohibit Ships Docking in US Ports

fishing vessels photo

photo: echoforsberg/Creative Commons

One part of controlling overfishing is establishing good fisheries management so the fishery doesn't become depleted, but that doesn't deal with a massive part of the overfishing problem: Illegal fishing. Now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is moving to stop this pirate fishing, establishing a new federal rule that prohibits known illegal fishing vessels from docking in US ports or using port services. Considering that a great deal of illegal fishing takes place outside of US waters, with the ships never staying away from US ports by virtue of geography alone, that aspect of the rule may be symbolic as much as anything else.

But there's another aspect:

The new rule will also prohibit persons and businesses from providing certain services to, and engaging in commercial transactions with, listed [Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated] vessels. Those services would include at-sea transporting of fish harvested by a listed IUU vessel, processing fish harvested by a listed IUU vessel or processing fish using a listed IUU vessel; joint fishing operations; providing supplies, fuel, crew, or otherwise supporting a listed IUU vessel; and entering into a chartering arrangement with a listed IUU vessel.

Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service, touts the rule:

This is a global problem that subjects our fisherman to unfair competition with illegally caught fish products entering the marketplace here and abroad. Illegal fishing also depletes fish stocks, which ultimately hurts legal fishermen, fishing nations, and their economies. Denying port access to vessels engaged in illegal fishing is an effective way to curb this damaging activity.

Illegal fishing doesn't just mean using unregistered vessels. It also includes failing to accurately record and declare catches--a huge problem with bluefin tuna, where actual catches of the critically endangered fish are several orders of magnitude higher than the authorized, and already too high, quota. Using prohibited fishing gear also falls under the IUU classification.

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More on Overfishing:
Overfishing Means Marine Animals Are Starving: Report
Overfishing is Slowing, But Only in Areas With Good Fisheries Management
How Bad Is Overfishing & What Can We Do To Stop It?
Thailand Attempts to Solve Overfishing By Dumping Tanks, Trains and Trucks Into Sea (Video)

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