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Fishing vessel / Image: FiskerForum

New measures against IUU fishing and forced labour proposed

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Tuesday, July 05, 2022, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

NOAA has proposed new measures aimed at illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. These changes address two key tools, the US Moratorium Protection Act and the international Port States Measures Agreement.

The measures would enhance NOAA’s abilities to combat IUU fishing activities and counter forced labour in the seafood supply chain. The agency will seek public comment on the rule once it’s published.

The proposed rule would strengthen NOAA’s ability to address IUU fishing activities when implementing the US Moratorium Protection Act. This is a key engagement tool NOAA uses to identify, consult with, and certify nations and entities whose fishing vessels are engaged in IUU fishing, by-catch of protected marine life, or shark catch on the high seas.

‘The Moratorium Protection Act is one of the United States’ most effective and impactful tools to combat IUU fishing activities,’ said Alexa Cole, Director of NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce.

‘It has resulted in many successes with identified nations strengthening their national fisheries laws, taking flag state action against their vessels, improving their engagement in regional fisheries management organisations’ compliance processes, and improving their monitoring, control, and surveillance efforts on a global scale. The proposed change to the definition of IUU fishing when implementing this Act will widen the scope of activities we can consider and provide us with the authority to address additional issues.’

Specifically, the rule proposes to broaden the scope of activities that NOAA can consider when identifying nations for IUU fishing to include firstly fishing in waters under the jurisdiction of a nation, without the permission of that nation, or in violation of its laws and regulations, and secondly fishing activities in waters beyond any national jurisdiction that involve the use of forced labour.

Photo: © EJF

Currently, the triggers for identifying a nation for actions of its vessels associated with IUU fishing under the Act are based on undermining or violating measures of international fishery management organisations, or fishing in areas, or on fish stocks, for which there are no applicable conservation or management measures.

In addition to the existing triggers, the proposed rule would allow the United States to identify any nation under the Act for a failure to exercise effective flag state control. Such a failure would be evidenced by persistent and pervasive fishing activities by the nation’s vessels, in waters under another nation’s jurisdiction, without the authorisation of that nation or otherwise in violation of that nation’s laws.

Burmese fishermen prepare to board a boat during a rescue operation in Benjina, Aru Islands, Indonesia. (AP/Dita Alangkara).Photo: americanprogress.org

Forced Labour

There is a growing body of evidence documenting severe labour abuses on board fishing vessels. Specifically, such abuses and exploitation are known to occur in conjunction with the more egregious IUU fishing cases.

The United States strongly condemns labour abuses of any kind throughout the seafood supply chain.

In December 2020, NOAA and the Department of State published the “Human Trafficking in the Seafood Supply Chain” Report to Congress. This listed 29 nations most at risk for human trafficking in their seafood supply chain.

The sleeping quarters on a Thai fishing vessel moored in the Southern Port of Kantang, where trafficked Burmese migrants stay while at sea for months at a time © EJF

NOAA and the Department of Labor co-chair the US Interagency Working Group on IUU fishing’s sub-working group on countering forced labor in the seafood supply chain. This group brings attention to the critical role of, and risks faced by, workers throughout the seafood supply chain.

NOAA is committed to addressing this issue and ensuring that products produced with forced labour do not enter US markets. We, therefore, propose the addition of “forced labour” to the scope of activities subject to identification when implementing the Act.

Port State Measures Agreement

‘The Port State Measures Agreement is a key enforcement tool which enables nations, like the United States, to assess the risk that an incoming vessel may be engaged in illegal fishing activities, and decide whether to let it enter to unload catch or receive port services,’ said James Landon, Director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement.

Author: Quentin Bates / FiskerForum | read the full article here

[email protected]


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