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Graves Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Louisiana’s Seafood Industry for Producers, Processors and Consumers Alike

May 13, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) introduced bipartisan legislation that will help to stop foreign Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing that undercuts Louisiana’s fisheries. The bill establishes monitoring and detection programs to identify and prevent IUU fisheries from unfairly competing with our domestic fishing boats. The legislation also strengthens international efforts to combat some of the worst illegal fishing practices of countries like China, Cambodia and Russia that threaten the sustainability of fisheries in oceans across the globe. 

“Generations of Louisiana’s fishing families have made our state one of the top seafood producers in the country. It is an important part of our economy and jobs.  The combination of great chefs and our seafood has resulted in Louisiana being a foodie destination.  However, hurricanes, government regulations, the pandemic and unfair competition from foreign fishing fleets are threatening the future of these hard-working men and women and threatening the sustainability of fisheries around the globe. It has evolved from an environmental issue to an economic issue to a national security issue,” Graves said. “I want to thank Cong. Jared Huffman for his leadership on the IUU issue. His partnership on this bill will help ensure America’s fishers have a fighting chance and our children and grandchildren have fish to catch.” 

“IUU fishing is an environmental and humanitarian crisis, and the U.S. should be a global leader in solving it,” said Rep. Huffman. “Illegal fishing operations damage ocean ecosystems and healthy fisheries, and are often the same ones that rely on atrocious, illegal practices like human trafficking and forced labor. Our new legislation tackles IUU fishing to protect human lives, promote responsible fishing around the world, and level the playing field for U.S. fishermen. Not only do we need to ensure an ethical seafood supply chain, but we also need to stop IUU products from entering our markets and competing with those who follow the rules and who keep our domestic fishing industry sustainable.”

Additional stakeholder quotes below:

"Getting IUU seafood out of our market means millions of dollars in additional income for Louisiana's fishermen every year," said John Williams, the Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. "Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) leadership in developing and introducing the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act will help to ensure that commercial shrimpers aren't forced to compete with shrimp produced through forced labor or through other illegal fishing practices."

“Congressmen Graves and Huffman have worked tirelessly to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and its distortion of global seafood markets at the expense of the American fisherman and our family-run small businesses." said Dr. C. David Veal, American Shrimp Processors Association’s Director. "On behalf of he American Shrimp Processors Association with members along the U.S. coastline from Texas to North Carolina, including Louisiana, all dedicated to sustainably harvesting and processing wild-caught American shrimp, we applaud the introduction of this bill, The Illegal Fishing & Forced Labor Prevention Act of 2021.” 

"The US Atlantic pelagic longline fishery for swordfish and tunas is the gold standard for target and bycatch species conservation among all of the many pelagic longline fisheries worldwide, but we must compete in the US market with imports from fisheries all over the world that fish illegally, use forced labor and operate with bycatch conservation standards that don't even approach those in our fishery," said Marty Scanlon, President of the Blue Water Fishermen's Association. "When enacted, Congressman Graves' bill will substantially level the playing field for US pelagic longline fishermen operating from Dulac, Louisiana to New Bedford, Massachusetts. We are very grateful for his and Chairman Huffman's leadership on these critical issues facing American fishermen."

"Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to be a serious issue that undermines the conservation efforts and achievements of US fishermen and challenges the longterm sustainability of fish stocks important to recreational anglers," said Jim Donofrio, Executive Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. "Many of our most important fisheries are threatened by IUU fishing when their range falls outside of US waters. We thank Representatives Graves and Huffman for introducing H.R.3075 and taking steps to identify and take action against nations that perpetrate IUU fishing harvest and the markets that fuel this illegal activity."

Provisions of the legislation would:

The Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act would:

  • Expand the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) to all species; increase data requirements for SIMP, including consideration of labor conditions; improve detection of imports at risk of IUU fishing and labor violations; and increase interagency coordination and data sharing.
  • Establish seafood traceability and labelling requirements; increase outreach on seafood safety and fraud; and improve seafood inspections and federal enforcement of seafood fraud.
  • Strengthen international fisheries management, including expanding U.S. authority to revoke port privileges for fishing vessels associated with IUU fishing and expanding IUU determination criteria to include human trafficking, forced labor, and other labor rights violations.
  • Update the responsibilities of the IUU Interagency Working Group.
  • Authorize funding for new Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) on vessels and amend requirements for where AIS must be used by U.S. vessels in federal waters and on the high seas.

 

Below are statistics from the United States International Trade Commission regarding IUU fishing:

  • The Commission estimates that the United States imported $2.4 billion worth of seafood imports derived from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2019, or nearly 11 percent of total U.S. seafood imports.
  • Over 13 percent of U.S. imports that had been caught at sea (“marine capture”) in 2019 are estimated to be of seafood caught using IUU fishing practices. Among the major categories of marine-capture IUU imports (by value) were imports of swimming crab, wild-caught warmwater shrimp, yellowfin tuna, and squid.
  • Of the major U.S. import sources, China, Russia, Mexico, Vietnam, and Indonesia are estimated to be relatively substantial exporters of marine-capture IUU imports to the United States, while Canada—the largest U.S. seafood import partner—is not.
  • IUU products are often used to make fishmeal and fish oil, products that aquaculture industries rely on for feed. IUU marine-capture products used in feed ingredients are estimated to be equivalent to nearly 9 percent of the harvested weight of farmed seafood exported to the United States in 2019.
  • The removal of IUU imports from the U.S. market would have a positive effect on U.S. commercial fishers, with estimated increases in U.S. prices, landings (catches of fish), and operating income for all species modeled.
  • The removal of IUU imports would lead to an increase in imported seafood prices and a decline in total imports, despite some increases in non-IUU imports.
  • The removal of IUU imports would increase total operating income of the U.S. commercial fishing industry by an estimated $60.8 million. The U.S. commercial fisheries with the largest increases in operating income include those targeting warmwater shrimp, sockeye salmon, bigeye tuna, and squid.

To read more about the legislation, click here.

 

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