Protecting Alaska's Fisheries: Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Author:Lavrakas, Dimitra

Combatting illegal fishing on the high seas (also known as international waters), which have no sovereignty, has been a thorn in the side of every nation that has a coastline. Relatively recent issues such as fishery sustainability, climate change, and deliberately mislabeling fish and fish products have prompted an effort to mount a worldwide coordinated response to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU).

This issue and others were addressed at the annual Seafood Expo North America in Boston in March. The expo attracted 1,341 exhibiting companies from ifty-seven countries--including new attendees from Fiji, Oman, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The exhibitors included not only the fishing industry but companies that support it such as transportation companies, equipment suppliers, and other support organizations. All told the Seafood Expo attracted more than 22,600 attendees from more than 120 countries.

An international panel offered perspective on IUU fishing, which violates national laws and/or internationally agreed upon conservation and management measures in effect worldwide. The panel was titled, "Fighting IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud: Enhancing Traceability and Transparency through Strengthened Governance Frameworks."

Participants included Giuliana Torta, counselor for Environment, Climate Action, and Maritime Affairs with the EU delegation to the United States; Somboon Siriraksophon, Fishery Policy and Program coordinator at the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center; Rune Dragset, deputy head of unit in the Seafood Section of the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries; and Deirdre Warner-Kramer, acting deputy director of the Office of Marine Conservation, US Department of State. All panel members agreed that cooperation across the world and a strict set of controls on how fish get to market are vital to dampening the problem of international fishing and seafood fraud.

"The problem exists because fish swim," said Marcio Castro de Souza, a senior fishery officer with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Committee on Fisheries for trade issues and the panel facilitator. "How do countries deal with migratory stock?"

De Souza said it is most important to know when the fish were caught, where they were caught, and how they're distributed. "The international fish trade is more valuable than the cattle and poultry industries combined," he explained.

Additionally, the fishing sector...

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