American voters agree that the government needs to do more to ensure that consumers are purchasing safe, honestly labeled, and responsibly sourced seafood. A recent Oceana poll found that 89% of voters say that imported seafood should be held to the same standards as U.S. caught seafood. Additionally, 81% of voters say they support policies that prevent seafood from being sold in the U.S. that was caught using human trafficking and slave labor. But the United States – a country that imports up to 85% of the seafood we consume – continues to bring in seafood tarnished by illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and human rights abuses.  

In 2019 alone, the U.S. imported $2.4 billion worth of seafood that were products of IUU fishing – an illicit activity that can include fishing without authorization, ignoring catch limits, operating in closed areas, targeting protected wildlife, fishing with prohibited gear while destroying important habitats, severely depleting fish populations, and threatening global security. IUU fishing is also often linked to forced labor and horrific human rights abuses at sea. 

The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering expanding the Seafood Import Monitoring Program with additional species groups at risk of IUU fishing and seafood fraud. But this proposal does not go far enough and will continue to allow illegally caught seafood to enter the U.S. SIMP needs to be expanded to all seafood imports to ensure only safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced, and honestly labeled seafood is sold in the U.S. 

Urge NOAA to act now to issue the final rule on the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program and urge them to expand the program to all seafood. Doing so will protect our oceans and ensure that U.S. consumers are not unwittingly supporting illegal fishing and human rights violations when they sit down to a seafood dinner. 

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