Net Loss: The Killing of Marine Mammals in Foreign Fisheries

March 03, 2014

Few realize it, but nearly every foreign fish product sold in the United States enters the U.S. market in violation of federal law. From the cod and haddock that go into the fish sticks enjoyed by children to the sea bass served at fine restaurants, if it was imported, it probably entered this country illegally. The reason is simple: The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requires that all imported fish or fish products be accompanied by proof that the technology used to land the catch does not kill or seriously injure whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals in excess of U.S. standards. Collecting dust for more than 40 years, this measure has never been enforced by the federal government, with predictable results: Foreign fisheries fail to invest in measures limiting harm to whales and dolphins; U.S. fisheries, which do make these investments, are placed at a disadvantage; and Americans unwittingly consume foreign fish or fish products caught using techniques that needlessly kill a multitude of marine mammals each year.