Wednesday December 21, 2022


This year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) package, which passed the Senate late last week, included important policy reforms that will help efforts to thwart illegal fishing and forced labor in the fishing and seafood sector. This legislation makes it clear that seafood produced with forced labor should not be allowed to enter the U.S. market, and includes key improvements to the tools the U.S. government uses to screen for illegally caught seafood entering the U.S.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is of high national security concern and threatens the health of the billions of people who rely on healthy fisheries. In 2020, the U.S. Coast Guard declared IUU fishing as the leading maritime security threat: it contributes to the collapse and decline of global fish stocks, and not only threatens ocean health, but destabilizes economies and increases international conflict. IUU fishing is also directly tied to forced labor and human rights abuses at sea and in the seafood supply chain. 

Recognizing this threat, President Biden signed a National Security Memorandum to address IUU fishing and forced labor earlier this year. This was accompanied by a series of important announcements at the UN Ocean Conference in June that stepped up the U.S. government’s commitment to tackle these intertwined crises across federal programs.

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