For healthy oceans, end illegal fishing: WWF
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry brought together some of the world's leading thinkers to chart a path for securing the future of our planet’s oceans and the communities and economies they support. Leaders from more than 80 countries delved into the most pressing issues facing our oceans, including marine pollution, climate change and unsustainable fisheries.
While the discussions were vibrant, one of the biggest announcements was made by President Barack Obama as he announced a new initiative to address illegal fishing. Through a government-led strategy, federal agencies — along with industry, NGOs and other key stakeholders — will work together to build a framework that ensures seafood products can be traced from "bait to plate." This is a critical step by the U.S. to combat illegally caught fish from reaching U.S. markets and ending up on dinner tables and on store shelves across the country.
One common theme that was presented throughout the "Our Ocean" conference was the role of cooperation and the need to work together, across governments, industry and with NGOs to address this shared problem.
To this end, some industry leaders are already rising to meet this challenge. Companies working with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, for example, have all made public commitments to combat illegal fishing by establishing best practices for monitoring, control and surveillance in tuna fisheries. ISSF requires that all participating processors, traders, and importers refrain from transactions with vessels that are not flagged to a country that is participating in the Regional Fishery Management Organization, do not have a unique, permanent identification number issued by the International Maritime Organization, or that are not on an authorized vessel list from a Regional Fishery Management Organization. These companies are voluntarily taking this conservation measure to a critical next step by withdrawing their tuna from the marketplace upon the discovery that the tuna originated with an IUU-listed vessel.
Fishing boat in open water image via Shutterstock.
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