Unethical Seafood: How U.S. Leadership Can Curb Illegal Fishing

Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Globally, roughly three billion people rely on wild-caught and farmed seafood as a primary source of protein, and the fishing sector provides jobs for millions of workers worldwide. It is crucial that we keep fish populations healthy. However, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a major driver of harmful overfishing. IUU fishing depletes fish populations, harms marine habitats, and endangers sensitive species—it is also linked to transnational crimes, including human trafficking, money laundering, murder at sea, and drug and arms trafficking.

As the world’s top seafood importing country by value, the United States could take a major step toward ending IUU fishing by rejecting IUU shipments that enter U.S. markets. Seizing this crucial opportunity will require improving our seafood screening system, building up state and federal law enforcement capacity, strengthening interagency collaboration, and enhancing enforcement actions at key ports.

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